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7 Health Conditions That May Worsen in Cold Weather and How to Stay Safe

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When temperatures drop, it can be a shock to our bodies. Extreme changes in winter weather can cause pre-existing conditions to worsen. While symptoms can become more pronounced during cold weather, rest assured that many symptoms are only temporary while the chill lingers.

If you have to go out in the cold weather, dress in layers and wear a hat, both of which can help your body retain heat. And stay dry -- dampness causes the body to lose heat faster. 

Know your risk factors. Talk to your doctor about your family history and stay up to date on appropriate health screenings.

Here are some conditions that are aggravated by cold weather:


Psoriasis is a common condition that mainly affects the skin. When the skin struggles to retain moisture, small cracks and sores can begin to form. The cold, dry air of winter only exacerbates the condition, causing pain or itchiness. These cold weather skincare tips can help.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease damages the airways in your lungs. When temperatures get colder, it can lead to further strain on the respiratory system. Other conditions like flu or asthma can also worsen COPD.


Influenza is most common during the winter. The flu virus survives better in cold, dry climates, and the lack of sunlight during winter leads to a decrease in vitamin D which compromises our immune system. While it is best to stay inside if you are feeling down this winter, breathing the same air indoors as someone who is affected is something you should also look out for.


Asthma is another common respiratory condition that can be worse in cold weather. An increased amount of cold air could be a trigger for asthma attacks, which constrict the airways to your lungs even further.


Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints and can cause pain, swelling and impaired movement. Cold weather lowers the barometric pressure and can restrict blood flow which can leave joints stiffer than normal. Additionally, this can cause tissues in the body to expand, which puts more pressure on your nerves. Usually it is harder to get outside or exercise as much when it is cold, but those suffering with arthritis should try to remain active to exercise their joints.

Raynaud’s disease

Raynaud’s is caused by arteries in the tips of your fingers and toes shrinking and limiting the blood supply to the area. Cold weather triggers this shrinking even further and can cause pain, numbness and color change in the skin.

Autoimmune diseases

Diseases such as lupus, anemia and multiple sclerosis (MS) can all worsen with cold weather. Emotional or physical stress can make someone more susceptible to flares like difficulty moving limbs, spasms, iron deficiencies and lethargy. These tips can help with stress caused by MS.

If your symptoms are worsening, schedule an appointment with your doctor or Ochsner Connected Anywhere virtual visits.

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