Why Seasonal Change Makes People Sick

Phil Mitchell MD, MS
Medically reviewed by Phil Mitchell MD, MSSeptember 29th, 2020
spring weather

The weather is changing. Out with the blustery winds and snowy days, in with bright sunshine and blooming flowers. But as you begin to celebrate the arrival of spring, there may be something other than birdsong in the air.

If it seems like you feel poorly every time the seasons change, you’re not alone. There are a number of reasons a change in the seasons or the ever-shifting weather of early spring can cause all sorts of symptoms and maladies.


If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’re probably dreading the coming months. Hay fever – an allergic reaction to pollens or molds – is most common in the spring, beginning in March. If you experience sneezing, congestion or itchy eyes, ears and nose this time of year, you’re not alone. Hay fever affects 40-60 million Americans every year. Windy days that stir up pollen can cause increased symptoms, while rainy days may lessen the pollen in the air.

The Common Cold

While the common cold is not actually caused by weather or temperature, it is more common to feel the effects of cold-causing viruses during periods when the weather changes. Why? Changes in temperature and humidity can make us feel more congested, with or without a cold. Additionally, changes in the weather can create the perfect environment for certain viruses to grow and spread. In the case of the common cold, the two culprits are rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. These bugs are best able to replicate in the cool temperatures of the spring and fall. While COVID-19 is one strain of coronavirus, the more common strains of coronavirus, that have been around for a long time, are frequently responsible for the common cold.


For some, spring brings on a rash of headaches or migraines that seem inescapable. Cluster headaches are seasonally related and occur one or more times per day over a period of weeks or months. It’s unclear exactly what triggers these clusters, but it’s believed they may be related to the natural changes in sunlight as the seasons progress. The lengthening and shortening days may affect circadian rhythms, leading to sleep problems and headaches. For some they occur in the spring and fall equinoxes, but for others, they may be related to the summer and winter solstices.

Joint Pain

Arthritis and old injuries may flare up drastically in the spring. You’ve probably known at least one person who says they can feel changes in the weather in their bones. While some may write it off as an old wives’ tale, there may actually be a medical and meteorological connection. Changes in barometric pressure, such as those precipitating spring storms, can bring on joint pain for some. So when Grandma tells you that she can feel a storm coming, better break out the umbrellas!


While many people are energized by rising temperatures and more sunlight, for others spring may bring on tiredness. Spring lethargy or spring fatigue is similar to the seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that others may feel in the fall and winter. While a direct cause has yet to be proven, a common theory is that it relates to hormonal changes. As the days get longer, our bodies naturally release more serotonin. This is often called the “feel good” hormone, but it’s also responsible for increased activity in the brain. For most people it’s a positive change, but for some it can overwhelm the system. This may lead to a feeling of tiredness as we adjust to the change.

Getting the Care You Need

No matter what health problems you may be experiencing this time of year, there’s no need to suffer in silence. For most seasonal health problems, there are ways to lessen the severity or duration of symptoms. But if you’re not sure what’s causing them, and if your symptoms are more severe and require urgent care, you need a diagnosis.

So why not get healthcare delivered? The friendly and professional medical teams from DispatchHealth are just a call, click, or tap away. They’ll come to you, armed with the knowledge and tools to diagnose and treat a variety of acute illnesses and injuries. So you can rest easy and get better quicker, all from the comfort of home!


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

  1. https://acaai.org/allergies/types/hay-fever-rhinitis
  2. https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/common_cold_causes
  3. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/seasonal-migraine-triggers/
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651
The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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