Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's NOT the weather

We've been sick. As in, can't breathe through your nose, stay in bed, dizzy, weepy, plugged ears sick. It started with me last Wednesday night, and then the kids got it over the weekend. The hubby (as usual) is the only one who's been able to escape the misery. Yesterday I went back to work, and the teachers and coordinators could tell that I wasn't back to 100%.

I say, "yes, yes, I've got a pretty bad cold. And my kids are at home with the same thing."

They say, "Oh, it's the weather."

I can't tell you HOW many times I've heard this since I've moved here. You have a cough? It's the weather. Your have a sinus infection? The weather. Sore throat? The weather.

I'm here to say, it's NOT the weather.

It seems to me that many Brazilians missed that science class where you learn about germs, and how sickness is passed. And this goes for the highly educated teachers at my school (some with multiple degrees and previous career experience) to the guy with the 2nd grade education selling candy at the street corner. I usually say something about how I work with about 150 children at 3 different campuses, and that 2 of them coughed in my face, 5 of them sneezed on me, and one always licks the shakers that we use in music class (actually he puts EVERYTHING in his mouth). And the response is, "oh yes, the weather changed last week and now everybody is feeling bad."

But petty annoyances aside, this makes me think about things that we Americans assume and say that are not accurate. What misinformation are we spreading? What anecdotes do we believe in? Listening to classical music makes kids smart? Carrots will make your eye sight better?


  1. It might be the weather. Dry summers, wet summers, variations in weather all makes pollen production vary from the norm and pollen in the air affects our allergies. That combined with viruses and germs make us sick.
    So I don't think it is only weather that makes us sick, or only germs.

  2. Thankfully we have no allergies in our family. We come in contact with lots of viruses and germs, and we share them.

  3. haha! It is amazing how much is blamed on the weather. Weather changes cause all colds and the dryness that everyone complains about (which is laughable to those of us from Arizona)causes colds, nose bleeds and such. I just nod and say "pois é!"

  4. I'm from Brazil and since I was a child I have learned that the weather is one of the factors that influence the widespread of common cold , influenza and similar diseases but I have never been told that the weather is the REAL cause of it like you suggested in the post that all Brazilians think.......... the change of weather is only one more factor that can influence to spread the disease.

    The points I have learned since as a kid and that we learn at school are basically these:

    1- When there is a change in the weather from hot to cold people tend to stay more in indoor ambients with less ventilation ( windows closed ) and if you stay in an enclosed area close to a person infected there is a higher chance to get the disease.

    2- Here in Brazil people tend to wash less their hand in a cold weather for the same reason that people that usually take 2 or 3 showers per day in the summer tend to take less showers in the winter , I don't know if that happen in other countries but people simply get more lazy to wash their hands because just the idea of a very cold water in a cold weather gets people lazy to do it..... The contaminated hand(i.e. person touch inside the nose ) from a person infected is one of the most common ways to spread the disease.

    3- In tropical countries like Brazil where people are not exposed to cold weather for long periods of the year the abrupt change of weather affects the immune system ( just like other factors: stress , bad sleep etc... ) and a less strong immune system is more subjected to get the disease.

    I don't speak english fluently( I'm studying it by myself ) but I hope you have understand my explanation of why people here tend to associate the change of weather with common cold and influenza. So , if someone tells you "it's the weather" that doesn't mean that they think the weather is what CAUSED the disease but they are basically telling you:

    1-You probably got in an enclosed area with someone infected.

    2-When you have contact with other people and objects touched by other people wash your hands before you touch your eyes and nose.

    3-Your immune system is not strong.


    I don't how it works in cold countries but here in Brazil it has been proved that people have more common colds and influenza in the winter , and that is the reason the government gives free flu shots in April and May just before the winter. You can go to any public hospital and ask if they have an increase of people with cold and influenza symptoms in the winter looking for treatment and they will tell you.