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Why do our immune systems seem to go into hibernation?

People are lining up around the block for their Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks, so it’s safe to say that fall is officially upon us and cooler weather is here to stay. But with all the amazing things that come along with fall, a few not-so-amazing things start to show up again as well,… HELLO cold and flu season!

Does it ever feel like the moment the cooler temperatures start, your families’ immune systems head south quicker than the falling maple leaves? Many of us are left asking…

“Why do our immune systems seem to go into hibernation in the winter?!”

It is commonly acknowledged that cold and flu season is October through May, with the peak months being December through February. And science may have found the reason. Recently, there has been research showing that colder temperatures may have an adverse effect on your immune system (remind us again why we live somewhere where it is cold for at least 5 months of the year?!)

A study done at Yale University found that viruses seem to survive longer and have an easier time spreading in lower temperatures. In addition, your body seems to have a lower immune system response in colder, drier weather as well.¹ The cells that line our nasal cavity — our first line of defense against viruses —respond slower in cooler temperatures and cannot put up as
much of a defense as they can in warmer temperatures.³

In a nutshell: slower immune responses, increased ability for viruses to spread, and less Vitamin D seem to be the perfect combo for winter sicknesses.

If it feels like you or your family is sick all winter long, you may not be wrong. Research has shown that adults will have two to four colds per year, while children are more in the range of six to eight illnesses per year. With colds lasting anywhere from three to seven days, that means some kids could spend over a month sick each year.

The Culprits

So far, researchers have found over 200 different viruses that can cause the common cold. The biggest culprits being Rhinoviruses (which cause up to 40% of colds during the fall and winter), Coronavirus, RSV and Parainfluenza viruses.² With so many possible viruses causing them,
treating colds can be difficult.

Because of their difficulty to treat, colds are the number one reason for hospital visits in the United States, but treatment options are limited due to the fact that viruses do not respond to antibiotics. But increased water intake, Vitamin D and C, and being diligent about washing hands, are all great steps to take to help ward off those pesky viruses.

Stress has also been shown to lower your immune system function, so managing stress levels is another great place to start. (Hint: if you haven’t downloaded our guide to managing stress before, be sure to check out Our Free Guide Here.

But if it seems like each winter no matter how many preventative steps are taken, your family still seems to head down a path of illness after illness, it is absolutely time to consider other options to help boost your immune system. Research shows chiropractic care can help boost immune
system function by over 200%.⁴ You read that right…200%!

Every cold and flu season we witness how our patients’ immune systems seem to be a step above the rest, with them getting sick less often and overcoming colds faster. And we get the joy of hearing amazing stories like the ones from these parents:

“The amount that he gets sick is dramatically less and when he does get sick it takes a fraction of the time that it used to, to get healthy. I can never thank River Shores Chiropractic enough for giving my son back his childhood; a childhood that he can act like a child should. Not stuck at home sick, but out making friends, going to school, enjoying parties and holidays.”

“After a month of care our son was and continues to be ear infection FREE! He is a happy, healthy little boy!”

Don’t let your immune system keep you cooped up inside this winter. With all the factors that are working against your immune system, it deserves some extra lines of defense to help keep it adapting at it’s best and help keep you at your healthiest.


  1. Eske, J. Does cold weather make you sick: What’s the link? (2018, October 23).
  2. Facts About the Common Cold. (2018, August 17).
  3. Scientists Finally Prove Why Cold Weather Makes You Sick. (2015, January 12)
  4. “The Effects of Chiropractic on the Immune System.” 30. Pero, R. (1988).” Boosting Immunity Through Chiropractic.” East-West Magazine


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