Does Winter Weather Increase Cold & Flu Risk?
According to moms everywhere, yes, cold weather increases the risk for the common cold. “You have to bundle up before you go outside or you’ll catch a cold,” they tell us. But is that claim true? Are we more susceptible to colds when the temperature drops?
A team of Yale University researchers examined that question more carefully. And their results won’t surprise mom. In their experiment, the team found that subjects were more susceptible to rhinoviruses – a major cause of colds – when their noses were cold.
The only catch? The subjects were mice.
Essentially, the study found that when the cells in the subjects’ noses were at normal body temperatures, the mice were able to detect the virus and alert the immune system.
But when the cells were colder – which would happen after spending time in the cold – the nose didn’t detect the virus and didn’t alert the immune system. Cold weather completely disrupted the body’s natural defense system.
So what our moms have been telling us all along could very well be true – cold weather might just increase the risk that you catch a cold. Of course, the research team warned that further tests needed to be done on humans, but now they have a hypothesis for future studies.
Cold and Flu Season: Prevention Tips
On average, kids battle eight colds per year, and the younger they are, the more likely they are to catch a cold. Of all age groups, children are the most susceptible to colds and the flu. So what can you do to keep your kids healthy?
The study’s lead author Aikio Iwasaki said that there might be some truth to the old wives tale – bundle up to prevent a cold – and covering the nose and face might be an effective strategy. This is especially important when temperatures are very cold, Iwasaki said, because the study found that the colder the temperature, the more susceptible the nose might be to rhinovirus.
In addition to covering the nose, hydration is another important strategy for preventing colds. There’s evidence that dehydration can cause an increase in the body’s cortisol levels, a natural stress hormone. This isn’t good for the immune system. The heightened cortisol levels can suppress the immune system, making us more susceptible to colds.
Finally, good hygiene is another important strategy for preventing colds. That includes regular hand washing and cleaning surfaces that children regularly come in contact with. This in addition to a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and zinc supplements are all recommended for preventing colds.
DripDrop can help prevent dehydration during cold and flu season. DripDrop is a doctor-formulated hydration power, with 2-3 times the electrolytes of pediatric alternatives, designed to quickly reverse and prevent dehydration.