By David Highfield

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As wonderful as the warm weather is, do drastic temperature changes in winter make more people sick?

Maybe you remember your mom telling you the swings in temperature will get people sick. And, with the flu season so serious this year, we wanted to know if that’s true.

“It is true people get sick when the season changes,” said Dr. Marc Itskowitz, a doctor of internal medicine with Allegheny Health Network, but he says that’s really more in the spring or fall when a temperature change is sustained.

He says a day like Tuesday where Pittsburgh hit 78 degrees, however, may actually reduce sickness.

“It will not make it worse. If anything, it’ll make it less likely to get the flu,” said Dr. Itskowitz. “People getting outside a little bit.”

He says it has to do more with humidity than temperature.

He says dry winter weather dries out mucus membranes making it more likely for viruses to spread.

Also, dry conditions inside homes allow viruses to survive longer on surfaces like keyboards and doorknobs.

“It’s actually more common for people to get sick when the temperature drops because the humidity drops when the temperature goes down, and most viruses are more likely to circulate when it’s dry out and cold,” said Dr. Itskowitz.

And while this flu season has been deadly, the latest numbers may indicate a change: “They’re still very high right now, but for the first time in eight weeks, we have not seen an increase week over week.”

He says they’re hopeful that we’re past the peak of flu cases, but they’ll have to keep watching in the coming weeks.

David Highfield