Drastic temperature drop not directly to blame for increase in sickness

by: John Ahrens Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

From nearly 70-degree weather to the 20s, the temperature drop since Tuesday has been one of the biggest falls in Charlotte history.

Meterologist John Ahrens asked doctors if the drastic change plays into coughs, colds and most important the flu.

Gerald Tucker is a long-time Charlottean, who has never seen such a swift seasonal switch.

“It didn't take 20 minutes until it was 20 degrees colder,” Tucker said.

"I just couldn't believe the change in weather so rapidly. I don't believe I’ve ever seen precipitation come down so fast,” said Ted Watson.

But , the question is -- does the cold weather -- or a rapid change in temperatures, actually make you sick?

Many people think so.

“That kind of thing causes people to have ailments and get sick," Watson said.

Ahrens found found doctors who are seeing an increase in patients.

SLIDESHOW: Weather stats, records set this week

"We have seen a bunch of people today who have like symptoms," said Novant Health Urgent Care Medical Director Charles Bregier.

But Bregier told Channel 9 the temperature drop is not directly to blame.

He said the body can handle that, but there are indirect factors that could make you sick.

“People are cramped into rooms, classrooms, offices, malls putting them close together. The flu that's always out there, now it gets transmitted, Bregier said.
 
The temperatures are set to swing in the other direction and pretty soon Charlotteans will not need a heavy coat.

These changes may not be responsible for sickness itself but it does play a role.

“If you are used to warmer weather, if you are out and about one day and it drops to 30 and you are running around barefoot and in shorts, you are suppressing your own immune system a little because of the cold weather getting into your body ... making you potentially hypothermic,” Bregier said.

The system that came through Tuesday also brought a huge change in air pressure, and that can aggravate arthritis, sinuses and even migraine sufferers.

Doctors say the very best thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu is to get a flu shot.

For complete information on where and when to get a flu shot in Mecklenburg County, click here.