Colder weather seems to invite more colds, cases of flu, and COVID-19

The trifecta of respiratory diseases is within reason. The triple whammy of health hazards is around the corner. Be wary and be careful with everyone around you – ‘praemonitus, praemunitus’ (forewarned is forearmed). This article and other early warnings will provide you an advantage over the casual reader.

Colds & Seasonal Influenza Causes

Colds and seasonal influenza typically manifest more cases in the winter months. Why? Several reasons – less sunlight means less access to sunlight for vitamin D production is one.

Living inside enclosed spaces is another reason that is given – easier to transmit viruses to others in close proximity. Viruses like colder temperatures and drier humidity are also thrown out as the cause of more respiratory illnesses in the wintertime.

The Exposure to COVID-19 Scenario

The good news is that the protections we are taking for the SARS-CoV-2 virus protects us against the common cold and seasonal influenza – social distancing, face masks, and frequent hand washing. Of course, a healthy diet and attention to hydration also help.

I think one of the reasons we see an increase in the latter half of the year is that our children are going to school and germs are shared extensively with everyone in the school and play areas. They catch the respiratory disease and share it with us.

We, in turn, share it with others at work. It takes a couple of months to progress and by that time we are in the dead of winter sneezing, wiping our runny noses, and coughing. Are we up against a triple-whammy this year – catching a common cold, seasonal influenza, and COVID-19 at the same time?

The older we are, the more serious multiple respiratory infections can be. We know that senior citizens with pre-existing conditions are very susceptible to catching COVID-19 and the risk of death is higher also. Isolation (home quarantine) has helped many prevent infection from COVID-19 and that should protect them from COVID-19, the seasonal flu, and the common cold this winter.

Death from Colds?

It is not common to die from a cold, but it can happen. I am certain you know more than a few people who were the walking wounded with pneumonia and still going to work. Without prompt and appropriate treatment, pneumonia can be a cause of death – all started from the common cold.

There are more than 200 viruses that can cause the common cold – coronaviruses and rhinoviruses are the most common. Like COVID-19, there are groups of people who have no significant symptoms with the common cold.

You might see a sore throat for a day or two and it disappears. Coughing and sneezing might be covered up easily by over the counter drugs. Just because a person is not coughing in your face does not mean you can not become infected.

Seasonal Influenza

The seasonal influenza death statistics vary by quite a bit each year. Some years it is less than 30,000 and other years it is over 50,000 Americans. The CDC estimated that the 2019-20 influenza season around 43,000 deaths (give or take a few thousand). It is considered a serious disease for the elderly.

The influenza virus category is composed of three types – influenza A, influenza B, and influenza C. Influenza and the common cold share similar symptoms, but the distinguishing symptoms of the flu are fever, body aches, cold sweats, and maybe shivering.
There are a few people who do not manifest any symptoms after becoming infected with the flu virus.

First Line of Defense

Respiratory infections usually enter our bodies through our noses. Winter conditions (colder temperatures and lower humidity) degrade our nasal protection – mucus. We inhale the captured viral particles and our stomach acid destroys the viruses before any real damage occurs.

Our immune system is our next line of defense for those viruses that bypass our mucus system. Phagocytes are the outer guard awaiting unknown foreigners inside our bodies. Their job is to destroy disease-bearing invaders.


Most of us should know the symptoms of COVID-19 – fever, chills, cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of taste or smell. Notice many similar symptoms to the common cold and seasonal influenza! is a good source of information on COVID-19 symptoms.

Winter 2020-21

The CDC estimates the risk of catching a cold is higher this coming winter. Their statistics indicate that the typical adult catches between two and three colds per year. Most of the time the cold’s duration is around two weeks.—winter-2021-asthma-flu-pollution–weather-forecast-for-the-pharmaceutical-industry-301054018.html has some interesting predictions for this winter – starting dates and intensity.

Our government always recommends getting the flu shot to help prevent the spread of seasonal influenza or to reduce the symptoms if you catch it. The common cold does not have a shot or vaccine and is dealt with when it occurs – as seasonal influenza. COVID-19 does not need a season for people to catch it.

This winter the odds are greater than the normal person will be more likely to catch any one or more of the three respiratory infections – cold, flu, and COVID-19. However, and it is a big ‘however’, our ability to protect ourselves from COVID-19 is more than adequate to protect ourselves from the common cold and seasonal influenza this winter.


We have become acutely aware of anyone sneezing, coughing, blowing their nose, and being in our personal space. Continue hand washing as appropriate. Some people rely on antiseptic gels and disinfectant wipes to clean their hands.

Want to stay healthy? Avoid unhealthy people! That is easier said than done. Asymptomatic carriers can look like anyone we know. They can be infected and contagious and we would never know. We cannot avoid everyone, but we can be wary of everyone.

Your health – your life! Choose wisely!

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –




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