October 19, 2018
Can Being Cold Make You Get a Cold?
Be Well

Can Being Cold Make You Get a Cold?

by John Swartzberg, M.D.  

Your mother may have told you to get out of your wet clothes (especially wet shoes) so you don’t “catch your death of cold.” That was the accepted wisdom for centuries, and early animal studies as well as some observational studies of humans seemed to confirm it. But since the 1950s, experiments have found that volunteers who were chilled and then exposed to cold viruses were no more likely to catch a cold or get worse colds than a warm control group.

Then in 2005 a widely publicized British “pilot” study from the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University reopened the debate when it found the opposite—that people who sat in their underwear with their bare feet in icy water for 20 minutes were indeed more likely than a control group to report having symptoms of colds during the next five days. I was quite skeptical of this study back then and remain so. There was no objective testing of virus levels, and the results have not been replicated. What’s more, the researchers’ attempts to explain their findings stretched scientific plausibility.

More recently, other researchers have suggested that the physical stress caused by being cold can decrease resistance to viruses (by boosting stress hormones, for instance, and reducing antibodies in saliva) or that breathing in cold air increases the risk (by drying the nasal passages and airways and constricting blood vessels in them).

One thing is clear: The main reason why colds increase in winter is that people (especially schoolchildren) spend a lot of time indoors in close enough proximity to swap germs. Exposure to cold, damp weather may increase the risk slightly (if at all). If you lived in total isolation in a cold, damp climate and were not exposed to cold viruses from other people, you’d never catch a cold, no matter how chilled you got.

If you do catch a cold, get plenty of fluids and rest—and you can always try zinc lozenges.

If you want to try zinc lozenges when you have a cold, start as soon as you have symptoms and follow the dosing advice on the label - See more at: http://www.berkeleywellness.com/supplements/minerals/article/zinc-figh...
If you want to try zinc lozenges when you have a cold, start as soon as you have symptoms and follow the dosing advice on the label - See more at: http://www.berkeleywellness.com/supplements/minerals/article/zinc-figh...
If you want to try zinc lozenges when you have a cold, start as soon as you have symptoms and follow the dosing advice on the label - See more at: http://www.berkeleywellness.com/supplements/minerals/article/zinc-figh...