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Why is the Flu More Common in the Winter?

Updated: Mar 26

We all know about flu season, but what makes flu season…flu season? Does the winter air just make the flu virus more contagious? Is it because we spend more time indoors and in closer contact with other people? Is it a combination of multiple factors? CareXpress Urgent Care has some answers.

The fact that people stay inside and in close proximity to others does increase the spread of the virus. However, the virus can only spread in a home if someone is already infected. So why does the virus seem to spring up in the colder months and not in May when more people will be outside where they could be exposed to the virus? It turns out that cold weather itself may be responsible for the virus’ winter spike.

Studies have shown that the flu virus seems to thrive better when the air is cold and humid. Studies done on guinea pigs showed that when the air was warmer, around 86 degrees F, the virus hardly transferred at all. When the humidity was cranked up, the same results occurred.

However, the virus didn’t seem to be able to transfer between hosts when the air was too hot or humid.

Researchers think this phenomenon is because the flu travels through the air on particles exhaled from a sick host. In cold, dry air the particles can travel farther and stick around longer, meaning it’s more likely that someone will come into contact with the virus and become infected. The reason warmer, wetter air interferes is because moisture gathers around the particles, making them too heavy to float in the air. This causes the particles the virus is riding on to fall and disintegrate.

Get your flu shot today. Come into your nearest CareXpress Urgent Care and protect yourself today! Check in here.


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