Winter Is The Season Of Giving…:
You can catch a cold or flu from being cold, right?
There is actual “cold” in the air and if you stick your hand out, you can catch some?
So, ever since we were little, we’ve been told to bundle-up in the winter.
-Or you’ll catch a cold.
Well in this video, ASAPScience explores a few of the myths on how you really do…
You Can’t Deny People Get Sick When It’s Cold Outside:
So, first of all there is no denying that everyone tends to get the most sick in the winter months.
And the statistics support this, with up to 20% of the country getting sick in one way or another between November and February.
And to be fair to the language, nobody calls a mysteriously-contracted, energy-sapping 48-hour sickness, “Catching a day at the beach”.
Or Is Temperature -Really- Evidence?:
But the real mechanism comes down to something basically-unrelated to temperature.
In-fact there are about 200 different ones we all refer to as “The Common Cold”,
With one called Rhinovirus leading the number of infections at near 50% of all cases.
This is not to be confused with “Chipotle Fever”;
So If It’s Viruses, Then How Do We Get Them?:
Ok, so if “colds” come from viruses and not temperatures, then WTH?
It’s all soylent-green, my friends.
The same reason you don’t want to use public hand-rails in a big city is the same reason why people get sick in the winter.
They spend more time indoors, in greater proximity over a greater period of time,
-Forgetting to wash their hands more-frequently,
And the risk of one person’s viruses transmitting to another goes WAY up.
We mentioned something like this in the way a sick office building can lose an entire group of workers in close-contact for very similar reasons.
Stealth Factors 2&3: Virus Power-Ups, Because Humidity:
Another interesting reason ASAP points out I’ve heard nowhere else before related to winter.
Viruses become tougher!
Now we all know there’s no humidity in winter.
And it turns out that contributes to the rash of sickness in 2 ways.
1) The common-cold virus’ external barrier becomes much thicker & stronger than it is in humid months.
2) Your nose dries out, so you lose the annoying but protective barrier of mucus in there.
Don’t Forget Your Vitamins, Sonny!:
And then there’s Sunlight.
The days are significantly-shorter in higher-latitudes during the winter.
Well, that means if you live anywhere north of Atlanta and you aren’t taking supplements or eating a truly heroic diet,
You probably don’t get enough Vitamin D!
And take a guess what that does?
It reduces your immune-system’s effectiveness.
-Which of-course, makes it easier for the viruses to get you another way.
As a matter-of-fact, researchers at Loughborough & Bangor Universities in the UK advise getting as much as 80% of your Vitamin D from food & supplements during the winter months just to stay healthy.
Big Studies Kill The Idea Of Catching Flu Or Colds Because Of Weather:
And now onto the more damning study-evidence.
There are at least 5 large historical studies that show absolutely ZERO correlation between lowering people’s temperature and them catching the common cold.
Including one that soaked people’s bodies in cold water like Wim Hof, The Iceman,
And another that dripped viruses from people with colds into other people’s noses to test the hypothesis. Yuck!
One of these big ones even showed INCREASED immune-activity in response to overall-cold, not less!
But This One Other Study…:
One more recent study might just hold out a tiny glimmer of hope for the old wives’ tale.
It all comes down to among other things, our old nemesis: Stress.
What they did was put people’s feet in ice-water.
And part of the effects were reduced blood-flow.
But the last stealth factor besides: Proximity, Sunlight, and Humidity,
Was: Elevated Cortisol-Levels through cold-induced Stress!
And what does an excess of cortisol do similar to a deficit of Vitamin D?
-It reduces the activity of your Immune System!
Virus Stomping-Grounds Also Benefit From The Cold:
Not only that, but one last bone to throw to the temperature-sensitive old wives:
In addition to the fact that there are more viruses around,
One area of the body that Can be affected by outside temperatures also showed an interesting quirk.
The rate of sacrificial cell-death in response to a viral infection in any cells with a cold air-current around them,
Like the Nose & Throat,
Was LOWER in colder weather!
-Which of-course would give them a much higher chance of reproducing, especially in the area winter colds seem to concentrate.
They don’t call it RHINO-virus for nothin’!
Defeat The Stealth Risks With Good Habits:
So maybe cold weather doesn’t really play as much a role as urban myths might suggest, given many of the big studies.
-But you can’t ignore the stealth-factors that might tip the balance against you.
So make sure to take your Vitamin D & wash your hands, and you should be fine.
But bundle-up outside just in-case! You know, because hypothermic-death from a wintertime Bomb-Cyclone is a little more serious than catching a cold or flu because of cold temperatures.
Video by ASAPScience
Photo “winter texture”, by Ove Tøpfer
• Source: YT-Does Being Cold Make You Sick?
• Source Study: Fam.Prac.- Acute cooling of the feet and the onset of common cold symptoms