Health

Experts: Why the cold weather does play a role in catching colds

Colds are minor infections of the nose and throat and are caused by more than 200 different viruses, according to the American Lung Association.

A mom pulls her daughter up a hill as they sled Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn.
AP Photo/George Walker IV
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Does cold weather really cause colds?

The short answer is yes.

“We’ve begun to discover that the temperature itself or changes in temperature … as few as five degrees Celsius, changes our innate immune system, or the way our nose functions to help fight off pathogens,” said Dr. Anthony Hudson, a physician at Children's Hospital New Orleans.

“Our nose is kind of the primary entry point for a lot of these viruses, and with the decreased temperature our noses just do not work as well with preventing infections,” he said.

Being indoors more and in close proximity to others is another factor that can increase the spread of viruses.

Mask mandates are returning as COVID deaths climb to start 2024
Mask mandates are returning as COVID deaths climb to start 2024

Mask mandates are returning as COVID deaths climb to start 2024

Johns Hopkins began requiring masks for patients, visitors and employees, regardless of vaccination status.

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This is important to understand for kids, who are more likely to get sick, especially in the winter, since they don’t have as robust immune systems compared to adults.

“The adult has seen many viruses or many infections through their years, their adaptive immune system is quite ready to fight off viral infections,” Dr. Hudson said.

So how can you stay healthy and prevent getting a cold?

“Sleep is one of the most important things parents can focus in on to ensure children's immune systems are ready to fight off any viruses they may come across,” he said.

Proper hand-washing — 20 to 30 seconds each time — is also helpful.

“I also think exercise is always important and a healthy diet where we focus on eating single-ingredient foods,” Dr. Hudson said.

He said prevention is key and to stay up to date with vaccinations.

@scrippsnews Can the #cold outside really cause you to get a cold? Doctors say yes, but it’s just one factor. Here are some ways to prevent a cold when the temperatures start to drop. 🌡️ #weather #health ♬ original sound - Scripps News