why do we get more colds in winter
Winter usually comes withбperpetual cold Б not justбoutdoor temperatures, but also within our bodies. As soon as the arctic weather sets in, people start coughing and sneezing. ; thereБs a reason you feel endlessly ill in December and the other winter months. Unfortunately, it turns out our nagging mothers were right when they yelled at us to wear more layers. Researchers have shown that the most common viruses that cause colds in humans replicate better in cool environments, which means they prefer our noses to our warm, gooey guts. But the cooler air also makes us weaker to defend ourselves Б when itБs cold out,
Popular Science, the immune system produces fewer virus-fighting agents, so the infection can just traipse in like it owns the place. БCooler temperatures meant a more sluggish immune response and a greater susceptibility to infection,Б. For a lot of people in the winter, especially the more north you live, the sun is coming up as youБre heading to work sets before you leave the office. That means you are not basking in its rays as much as you do in other months, and your skin produces less vitamin D as a result. And that vitamin may be playing a role in your bodyБs defenses. Although the evidence is not conclusive, the suggestingб that vitamin D helps prevent upper respiratory infections. Read: Among its many applications, immune function, as well as cell and bone growth and the bodyБs calcium absorption.
It has also been. The law of odds tells us that the more people around you who are sick, the more likely you are to catch something. And we must remember that the people around us who are careless about spreading germs in warmer months probably donБt suddenly start washing their hands more in the winter. The б that germs in droplets expelled during coughs or sneezes can live on surfaces like doorknobs, desks and refrigerator handles for two hours or even longer. Person A coughs into their hand, picks up the coffee pot. Person B touches the coffee pot, scratches the corner of their mouth. The б that with the flu in particular, people may be contagious before they even know they are sick Б and thus are not taking precautions to avoid infecting other people. And that infectious quality has a long reach: БPeople with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Б Read: The Flu vs. The Flu Shot Tis the Season, Not the Temperature: The Cold Does Not Cause Colds Our grandmothers were right about most things, but one thing they, and we, often get wrong is the connection between the weather and getting sick. The mistake actually makes sense. P After all, everyone knows all our kids, and all of us, get sicker and sick more often in the winter than the summer. P And we all also know that it is colder in the winter than the summer. P Therefore, doesn t that prove that cold air causes colds?
After all, why else do they call these miserable illnesses colds anyway? It turns out the answer comes from our friends in Hawaii, Israel, and Indonesia. P Even where it is hot as can be, people still get tons of colds. P I actually wonder if the runny nose, fever, achy, misery we call a cold is called a cold in India where people get plenty of these illnesses, but usually it is sweaty hot outside when they get sick? So why are we so sure getting chilled gives you a cold? As noted, we all tend to get colds in Ohio when it is truly cold, even frigid out. P If we only get sick when it s cold, it must be the cold that makes us sick, right? When we play or work outside when it s 10 degrees, our nose gets chilled and to protect the delicate innards of our nostrils, our bodies make extra mucus to prevent freezing. P So whenever we breathe freezing air for awhile we get a runny nose. P If every time our nose gets chilly we get a runny nose, then the runny nose of a cold must be from the cold air, right? It s called a cold! P Why would eons of people call the illness a cold if it had nothing to do with being cold, right? The answer to all three is not right. P Every single cold every caught is caused by a virus. P Not cold air, a virus. P No virus, no cold, even if it is -20 degrees below and you have to stand outside for 6 hours with your feet in ice water. P No virus, no cold.
Even more so, if you get a virus and it gets in you and multiplies, your are going to get sick, even if it sunny, 80 degrees, and you are cozy and warm. P Viruses cause colds, not the weather. P No virus, no cold. P Yes virus, yes cold. Now, one of the most peculiar facts about our relation to viruses, and I mean very peculiar, is their seasonality. P Not weather seasonality, but calendar seasonality. P No matter what the weather is, setting records for heat and drought, or for cold and wet, many viruses arrive on a certain day each year, and leave on a certain day. We are in the midst of one of these great mysteries of biology, right now. P The species of virus called influenza mysteriously appears every December and just as oddly nearly completely disappears every April, around the world. Without getting too lost in the weeds, note that this graph plots how many cases of influenza virus are in the US every week. P Notice that for every line, it goes up and it goes down. P That means magically the virus appears across the United States, and then just as strangely, disappears, every year. This happen everywhere. P So influenza virus comes and goes in Hawaii, Israel, and Indonesia, where it is warmer. P No matter that the sun is beaming, there is no snow, it isn t dark, people there get colds and flus seasonally too. So, let s take a look at our three reasons and see how they stand up to the actual facts: We get a lot sicker when it s cold.
P That is a coincidence, the cold and flu viruses flare in December around the world, just happens to be cold here, but it would happen even it if was warm here in December. P Cold temperatures do not cause colds, only viruses do. We get runny noses when we go outside. P That does happen, but that s not a cold, it s just a sniffy nose until our nose warms up. Cold temperatures do not cause colds, only viruses do. We call it a cold. P Well, that reflects our confusion, not an actual explanation. P Cold temperatures do not cause colds, only viruses do. Put it all together, and cold temperatures turn out to be associated with colds, they do not cause colds. Associations are when two events happen together. Causes are when an event, if it is stopped from happening, means the other event will not happen. We know polio viruses are the only cause of polio, because when we got rid of the polio virus, all polio ceased entirely. We know cold temperatures are associated, in Ohio, with colds, but do not cause them, because when we get rid of cold temperatures in hot areas of the world, people still get just as many colds. BOTTOM LINES Yes, they are called colds, and they happen in the cold winter, but only viruses cause colds. P Enjoy the great outdoors and the biting chills of winter, they will not make you sick. Happy Holidays, Enjoy the Season, and To Your Health, Dr. Arthur Lavin
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