For generations, mothers have warned their children to button up their coats, wear hats, and stay warm to avoid “catching cold.” Doctors have discounted this notion, crediting illness to the viruses and bacteria thriving when people are shut inside during the winter months. But what if our moms were onto something? Recent research indicates that this might be the case!
Researchers at Yale have discovered a link between temperature and the body’s ability to fight the rhinovirus, the common cold virus. In fact, it seems that the colder we get, the less our bodies are able to fight the rhinovirus, and more inclined to succumb to sniffling, sneezing misery. Since the 1960s, scientists have known that the rhinovirus replicates more efficiently in temperatures below body temperature, specifically between 91-95° Fahrenheit. However, researchers believe that our difficulty fighting the bug at colder temperatures has less to do with the virus itself than it does with our immune systems.
One thing that many people don’t know is that about 20% of the time, we carry the rhinovirus in the tissues of our nasal passages. In the study at Yale, scientists determined that the cells in our lungs are better able to fight the virus than the ones in our noses. That’s because at 98.6 degrees, cells have a stronger immune reaction than they do in the cooler environment in the nose. Combine the increased strength of the virus at low temperatures, and the weakening of immune reaction at those same temperatures, and you have the answer to how cold can make you more susceptible- and a perfect reason to stay warm!
As temperatures plunge across the country, chances are good that you’re living somewhere cold! Now that you know it can increase your chance of getting sick, you might want to bundle up. One the best ways to protect yourself from the cold and other illnesses is to maintain a healthy lifestyle all year. At our clinic, we can help you reach your wellness goals, and live the live you want to live. Call today to schedule your free consultation.