You may have heard the common wives’ tale, if you don’t wear your coat outside, you’ll catch a cold. But, Natelie Frazier-Cook, Advanced Nurse Practitioner at St. Francis Medical Center in southeast Missouri’s Cape Girardeau, said that isn’t the reason sickness spikes when the weather changes.

“The change in temperature, I think that there’s more people that stay indoors,” said Frazier-Cook. “And if someone already has a virus and then you’re staying indoors around them, you’re more likely to become sick with a virus as well.”

Fraizer-Cook said it’s not about being outside but inside.

“If you’re around someone that has a virus, two or three days later after you’ve been around them is when you’re going to start developing symptoms. And you are usually contagious for about four days into those symptoms,” said Frazier-Cook.

In Cape Girardeau County, the Health Department said there have been 13 reported cases of the flu since the end of September. In St. Francis County, that number is 19.

“The flu season started a little bit earlier this year,” said Frazier-Cook. “We started seeing some cases positive in September, so it’s definitely here in our area. It’s time to get your flu vaccine.”

According to Frazier-Cook, the main differences between the common cold and flu are body aches and a fever.

“Give it a few days. I think that what we see a lot of times is that people are sick just for a couple of days and they come into be seen. And we normally don’t treat with antibiotics unless a patient has been sick for five to seven days,” said Frazier-Cook.

Nurses recommend visiting a primary care doctor or urgent care if you have common cold or flu symptoms, not the emergency room. Also, make sure to get your flu shot before the end of the month.

If the cooler temperatures are keeping you inside, don’t forget to wash your hands but also disinfect surfaces in the house.

(Missourinet media partner KFVS-TV contributed this story)