Trading Germs When It Gets Cold Outside

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Knoxville (WVLT) - There are precautions you need to take to protect yourself from cold weather.

But the cold can also be good for your health.

Besides the runny noses and shivering that are obvious side effects of the cold, there are other, less obvious benefits when the temperature drops.

The benefits can be hard to remember when you're piling on layers and lacing up snow boots, but come July, you'll be grateful for this cold streak.

Cold weather won't give you a cold, but warming up might.

When it's cold outside, people tend to stay inside to share the heat.

And, in turn, one anothers germs.

Dr. Randy Pardue, of Family Medicine says, "that's why in the winter we see epidemics of disease. It's really related to the fact that people are inside and closer together."

But you're leaving your health out in the cold if you stay out there too long.

Your body has to work overtime just to stay warm, and accidental hypothermia can occur even in temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees.

There are also some advantages when the temperature drops below freezing, but you may not reap the benefits until spring.

Pardue continues, "we do hope for some good, solid freezes during the winter to lower the mosquito population."

The lower the temperature goes, the more bugs freeze and die, and the less likely they are to bug you come spring.

Also, Pardue says spring allergies shouldn't bother you as much.

"Outdoor allergies are obviously much less during the winter because of pollen-bearing plants are not blooming."

But if you suffer from indoor allergies, spring can't come too soon.

Right now is also a good time to remember to check on elderly or dependent friends, neighbors and relatives.

People who are 65 or older should set their thermostat no lower than 65 degrees.

While people older than 75 should maintain an inside temperature of 70 degrees.