Fact

The cold weather can increase one's risk of getting sick.

Does Cold Weather Cause a Cold?

Being cold doesn’t give you a cold, but cold weather can increase your risk of getting sick. Lower body temperatures suppress the body’s immune system and helps some viruses thrive.[1][2]

FACT: Viruses and bacteria, not cold or wet weather, cause infections. The common cold is never directly caused by the weather. The relationship between being cold and getting sick is indirect.

Is it a Myth that “the Cold Causes a Cold”?

It used to be considered a myth or an “old wives tale” that “cold causes a cold”, however, new studies have shown that the old view was partially inaccurate. Cold isn’t a direct cause of the cold, but it can be indirectly related in the ways described below.

Evidence that Being Cold Can Indirectly Cause the Common Cold and other Sickness

Additionally, one should consider:

  • The studies that show us that being cold affects getting a cold are based on lab tests done on mice. Thus it is theory, not absolute fact.
  • The rhinovirus, the most common cause for colds, thrives and reproduces at temperatures just under the body’s average temperature of  98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.[3]
  • First it was shown that rhinovirus strains replicate better at the cooler temperatures found in the nasal cavity than at lung temperature. Later, in a 2014 study, it was shown that rhinovirus strains generally thrive better in colder conditions. Thus, it was shown the mechanic was likely temperature, not some other aspect of the nose or lung. This was found by comparing warmer and cooler nasal cavity cells. What they discovered was that when a virus invaded warmer cells, the host cells produced significantly more interferon (proteins that “interfere” with the spread of a virus by warning healthy cells of its presence and setting off an immune response).[4][5]
  • It isn’t just Rhinovirus that causes “the common cold”, many different viruses cause this and not all react the same way to cold weather. [6]
  • When it is cold people tend to spend more time in enclosed spaces with other people.
  • Dry and cold conditions are probably more high-risk situations for viruses because of dry mucosa (The mucosa membrane is what lines the back of your throat and your sinuses and produces mucus that stops pathogens and dirt from entering your body. Viruses can invade a dry mucosa and start growing, causing your cold).[7][8]

In other words, being cold is indirectly related to getting a cold, it isn’t directly related.

Does Being Cold Make You Sick?



Conclusion

Cold doesn’t cause a cold directly, but it can lower your immune system. Additionally the most common cause of the common cold, the rhinovirus, thrives in temperatures just below the average body temperature. This and more can lead us to conclude that your risk of getting sick is generally increased in the cold weather.


Citations

  1. Cold viruses thrive in cold noses
  2. True or False: Being Exposed to Wet, Cold Weather Increases the Risk of Infection
  3. There is A Scientific Reason That Cold Weather Could Cause Colds
  4. Temperature-dependent innate defense against the common cold virus limits viral replication at warm temperature in mouse airway cells
  5. Does chilly weather really cause a cold?
  6. About Antibiotic Use and Resistance
  7. Does cold weather cause colds?
  8. Mucous membrane


"Being Cold Can Increase Your Risk of Getting Sick" is tagged with: Cells


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