Does the cold weather really affect our chances of getting a cold?

Winter backyard

With the freezing cold temperatures we have been having recently, it’s hard not to think about how the cold weather might affect our chances of getting sick. Well, a recent study looked at this very topic.

Researchers at Yale looked at the effect of temperature on a common virus that causes colds. In the study, the researchers looked at the immune response to the rhinovirus. The rhinovirus is the most common cause of the common cold. Using mouse cells, the researchers studied the effect of temperature on viral replication.

The study found that there was a weaker immune response to the virus at lower temperatures. This weaker immune response may allow the virus to replicate more aggressively. This, in turn, could lead to a higher chance of developing a viral infection.

So, there may be some scientific basis to the old adage of keeping warm to avoid getting sick.

A cold can lead to nasal stuffiness, nasal drainage, facial pressure, and a general feeling of misery. In most situations, a cold goes away on its own. Sometimes, though, a cold is just the beginning. A cold can help create conditions that might make a bacterial sinus infection more likely. In some situations, lingering infections and inflammation can lead to chronic nasal and sinus problems like chronic sinusitis.

Here is an interview with one of the study’s authors conducted by Science Friday:

Here are some additional links about the study: Article by Science Friday. Summary News article on Yale website. Article abstract in PNAS.

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