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Why are respiratory diseases more frequent in winter?

January 9, 2024

Respiratory viruses like COVID-19 and influenza are more common during colder months, and this is not solely due to increased indoor activities. Researchers believe that humidity is another contributing factor.


Researchers explain that higher humidity levels in warmer months cause the droplets released when we speak, cough, or sneeze to be larger. These larger droplets quickly fall to the ground due to their size. However, in winter when the air is drier, these droplets containing viruses can remain suspended in the air for longer periods and travel greater distances.


Furthermore, during winter months, a person's immune system may not function as effectively. Cilia, the small hairlike projections in the upper respiratory tract responsible for removing foreign material out of the nose, do not work as well in cooler temperatures and lower humidity. Consequently, viruses can persist in the upper respiratory tract for longer durations.


So, how can we prevent these viruses during winter?


  • Get vaccinated against COVID-19, influenza or other respiratory viruses.
  • Maintain good hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing.
  • Avoid crowded places and close contact with infected individuals.
  • Wear masks properly in situations where physical distancing is challenging.
  • Follow a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and sufficient rest.
  • Additionally, using humidifiers in dry indoor environments can help preserve moisture levels, potentially reducing the survival and transmission of respiratory viruses.


Remember, these preventive measures work best when combined. Stay informed about the latest guidelines from healthcare authorities and adapt your habits accordingly to protect yourself and others from respiratory viruses.