'Yo-Yo weather' can make you feel sick

While extreme temperature changes don't make you sick they can make you feel sick and take a toll on your immune system said WebMD’s Chief Medical Officer.

Over the past several weeks, the country has seen record highs and icy cold.  Dramatic weather changes like this don't make us sick but can impact our health.

"I call this 'yo-yo weather' this up and down," said Dr. John Whyte, Chief Medical Officer for WebMD, when he sat down with FOX Weather recently. "It's kind of like yo-yo dieting, and both are bad for your health." Drastic temperature changes can make a person feel sick; headache, fever, being more tired than usual or cause a runny nose and watery eyes he said.

"It really can impact your health because your body sees it as stress.  And when our bodies are stressed, it often impacts our immunity and the way we are able to combat infections," Whyte continued.

"Infections like rhinovirus, RSV, strep, flu or COVID-19," said Dr. Jeanette Nesheiwat, FOX Medical Correspondent. "Cold can make you uncomfortable, but it can't directly make you sick," agreed Dr. Jeanette Nesheiwat, FOX Medical Contributor said in a recent interview with FOX Weather. "You actually have to come into contact with bacteria or a virus."

Who is most at risk?

"We don't respond well as we get older to these changes in temperature, leaving the elderly and people with underlying health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure at a particularly high risk," said Whyte. 

"Temperature stress on the body can also further stress the heart of some," added Whyte. "Anyone who has underlying respiratory issues like asthma or COPD, that extra work you have to do to breathe better is also going to impact your heart."


"It's so important to stay warm and stay hydrated, so know the weather," said Nesheiwat. "If you are going outside in cold weather, you definitely want to dress in layers, wear your gloves, wear a hat, wear your mittens.  Wearing proper shoes as well is very important, especially when it's snowing."

She said common sense cautions like washing hands, getting vaccines, and getting plenty of rest can help keep us healthy in rollercoaster weather.

"Avoid the extremes, even if it means putting off your daily outdoor walk," said Whyte, "The key is that you don't want these big temperatures extremes like when you are in a super-hot apartment or office, and then you go outside and its 20 or 30 degrees."

"We probably all keep our thermostats in our homes and apartments too high," Whyte continued. "They really should probably be around 68-69 degrees and not the 72 that I have to admit I usually like."

Nesheiwat suggested asking your doctor to test your Vitamin D levels.

"If you are feeling symptoms from the rapid weather changes, look to increase your Vitamin C, Vitamin B-12 and Zinc intake," Nesheiwat continued. "Those are the sort of things we always take a look at whenever we are feeling under the weather to try to perk us up and boost, build and strengthen our immune system."