For years people have told their children to wrap up warm or they will fall ill, but is it really true that you can catch a cold from cold weather? Sam Gouldson’s latest FACT OR FABLE investigation finds out!
It’s certainly true that colds are far more common during chilly weather, but the common cold is caused by a virus called the rhinovirus, and not by a drop in body temperature or by staying out in cold weather without a jacket!
People tend to stay indoors more during cold weather and so are more likely to come into contact with others who are carrying the virus, meaning that it spreads more easily and affects more people.
However, research has recently come to light that suggests there may some truth to this idea after all. Professor Akiko Iwasaki and her team at Yale university have discovered that the rhinovirus replicates itself more efficiently when the air is colder.
They also found that the body’s immune system, responsible for fighting off viruses and infections, doesn’t respond as well at lower temperatures. This means that although cold air doesn’t actually cause the common cold, it means that the virus is slightly stronger and your body is slightly weaker.
This one seems to be a mix of fact and fable, so perhaps it is better to err on the cautious side, and wrap up warm when you go out in the cold! (And no, your mum didn’t tell me to write that!)
Sam blogs about all kinds of science at www.samanthagouldson.com.
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