Constant weather changes to blame for campus-wide common cold outbreak

It’s that time of the year again when everyone seems to have a runny nose or a cough that echoes throughout the university.

It always seems that when students come back from spring break and the weather starts to change, people’s sinuses start to act up. It’s not uncommon for Gannon University students to carry around a bag of cough drops or a pack of tissues as the weather warms up and leaves behind the former wintery gloom.

Jamie Gionfriddo, a senior biology major, said she does believe that the weather has something to do with her not feeling up to par in the beginning of spring.

“I’ve noticed that change of weather does affect my sinus pressure, and this will last about a day or two,” she said.

According to HealingWell.com’s article by Manfred Kaiser titled, “How the Weather Affects Your Health,” the weather does affect people, specifically those people with pre-existing conditions.

“A weather-sensitive person reacts with varying intensity to changes in weather elements, such as air pressure, temperature and humidity,” Kaiser wrote.

“These changes can affect a person’s well-being and may worsen the symptoms of existing disorders, in particular pain. Some of the effects are increased irritability and aggressiveness, anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep disorders, headaches, heart and circulation irregularities and nausea.”

Ethan Kapp, a junior physician assistant major, said that the weather also affects people two other ways not mentioned in Kaiser’s article.

“Most health issues [outside of pain] can be attributed to allergies and possibly the remission of symptoms with Seasonal Affective Disorder,” Kapp said.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a mood disorder that occurs at the same time every year. While most people experience it in the winter due to a lack of sunlight, and in the spring, WebMD mentions a rare form that occurs in the summer.

In addition to allergies, there are other things going around, from the common cold to the more severe mononucleosis, also known as mono or “the kissing disease.” Most illnesses start because someone sneezes or coughs, causing them to spread.

If one person gets sick in a close grouping, it always seems as if everyone else in the group will get sick after, one by one. Gionfriddo’s roommate, senior medical technology major Stephanie Stalnaker, is in an off-campus hospital classroom program with 11 others, and they have to work closely together every day.

“If Stephanie says her lab partner is sick, I know it’s only a matter of time before she gets sick,” Gionfriddo said.

So how does Gionfriddo prevent herself from also catching whatever is going around? She takes Airborne if she feels the slightest sniffle or throat tickle.

Gionfriddo said that when either she or her roomate gets sick, they sleep in separate rooms. “We also clean the apartment thoroughly during the illness and after – especially after,” she said.

According to Gionfriddo, it is not what you wear but what’s in the air that makes people succumb to illness.

“That’s more of a stereotype,” Gionfriddo said. “It doesn’t matter what you wear. I know people who walk around in the winter in shorts and T-shirts and are perfectly fine.

However, if you are already getting sick or something is floating around, you will get sick for sure.”

Does this mean that no matter what we do, we’re bound to get sick? Not exactly. Preventing illness this time of year is rather simple to accomplish.

Kapp said that some ways to prevent sickness include drinking a minimum of 64 ounces of water a day, eating a well-balanced diet according to your weight and activity level, striving for eight hours of sleep a night, and getting adequate exercise.

Kapp also said the most important and easiest thing you can do is wash your hands on a regular basis.

If you can’t get to a sink and soap, most classrooms now have hand sanitizer dispensers.

As for stress, which can also trigger illness, Kapp suggests meditation or doing a fun activity that is enjoyable to relax the body and mind.

The next time you find yourself sneezing or the person next to you in class is coughing up a lung, just remember these helpful tips to get through this beautiful, yet germ-filled, time of year.

CAITIE RYAN

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