Group Podcast: Catching a Cold and Climate Change

Sam Caravette, Sarah Foster, Fatima Farha


 Important things to Consider

  • Why are talking about this? Importance
  • What factors are actually involved/any misconceptions
  • How does it relate to the world now?

Podcast Script

Does Changing Weather Cause the Common Cold?

Anchor Introduction: Have you ever wondered why people seem to get sick more often when the weather changes? The answer may surprise you. In the following podcast, science journalists Samantha Caravette, Sarah Foster, and Fatima Farha explain what causes sickness and cold-like symptoms during the early spring time.

<Insert bird chirping.>

Fatima: This is a time of year when people find themselves grabbing a heavy jacket one day and a light sweater the next. And, for many, along with frequent weather changes come allergies and symptoms of the common cold. Because of this, you may have heard people blame the changing weather for their case of the sniffles. But is it fair to blame Mother Nature?

Fatima: Dr. Kittu Jindal Garg, recently told the Weather Channel, quote, “A lot of the viruses that cause the common cold are shown to cause outbreaks more frequently in the early to late spring and early to late fall.” End quote. Dr Garg, a Cleveland-based doctor of internal medicine, says this is because the viruses most likely to cause the common cold reproduce more efficiently in the cool spring weather.

Samantha: Rhinoviruses are the most common type of virus.  There are currently 110 known types, and if you come down with a cold, there’s a 10 to 40 percent chance the rhinovirus is to blame. These viruses primarily infect the upper respiratory tract; areas such as the nose, mouth, throat, and voice box. If you catch a rhinovirus, chances are you’ll experience nasal dryness, sore throat, congestion, sneezing, and possibly a cough. These kinds of infections are more common in the early fall, spring, and summer.

Samantha: The other, less-common culprit is the coronavirus. There are only five known types of coronaviruses that can infect humans. These viruses cause symptoms similar to rhinoviruses, infecting both the upper and lower respiratory tracts. Coronavirus infection can lead to pneumonia, which can cause fluid to build up in the lungs making it harder to breathe. Pneumonia is a serious illness that can easily infect the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. These kinds of infections are more common in the winter and early spring.

Samantha: So as it turns out, the cold weather does not directly cause people to get sick. But since the weather can cause cold symptoms, it’s no wonder it’s a common misconception.

<Insert thunderstorm clip.>

Sarah: Ever wonder why spring thunderstorms can cause migraines or joint pain? It’s because those storms are accompanied by drops in atmospheric pressure, like the kind you feel when an airplane takes off. Spring weather also provides the perfect environment for allergens. The rising temperatures and frequent rainfall send large amounts of pollen from flowers, trees, and grasses floating into the air. For people allergic to pollen, this can cause sneezing, congestion, and difficulty breathing.

Sarah: But you don’t have to be allergic to pollen to experience these cold-like symptoms. Some people suffer from the same symptoms as those with allergies, but the causes occur after sudden changes in temperature and humidity.

Fatima: So, does changing weather actually make you sick? The answer is mostly no. Many factors that accompany changing weather can cause people to become ill. According to Dr. Garg, the best thing you can do to get through this time of runny noses and sniffles is to get plenty of sleep and exercise.



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