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 help some viruses thrive. Specifically, the rhinovirus (one of the most common causes of the common cold) thrives at temperatures slightly below our body temp.
FACT: Rhinovirus infection proliferates in temperatures between 33–35 °C (91–95 °F), the temperatures found in the nose. Oddly enough, having a cold nose can increase your risk of getting a cold, just as one might have assumed long before science.
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 a 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
- The studies that show us that being cold affects getting a cold are based on lab tests done on mice. Thus it is a theory, not absolute fact.
- The rhinovirus, the most common cause of colds, thrives and reproduces at temperatures just under the body’s average temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 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 thrive 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).
- 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. 
- When it is cold people tend to spend more time in enclosed spaces with other people rather than outdoors in fresh air.
- 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).
In other words, being cold is indirectly related to getting a cold; it isn’t directly related.
Does Being Cold Make You Sick?