Stop the Common Cold with a Hair Dryer
Can a Blow Dryer Cure the Common Cold?
There is no known cure for the common cold but some people swear that blowing warm air into the upper respiratory passages of the nose and mouth with a hair dryer can actually stop a cold or at least lighten the symptoms. It sounded a little fishy to me, but after learning that the rhinovirus doesn't multiply well at normal body temperature, I am beginning to that there may be something to the practice.
(photo by breakfast for dinner CC2.0)
Take the Poll
Do you think it's possible for a hair dryer to slow down or stop a cold?
How Could a Hair Dryer Stop a Cold?
Reasons that a Hair Dryer Could Work
- The rhinovirus, which causes about a third of all colds, reproduces best at temperatures between 91 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (33-35 degrees Celsius). This is cooler than normal body temperature which is why the virus replicates mostly in the nose and upper throat where the temperature is relatively cool. Rhinovirus does not replicate well in the lower respiratory tract. It stands to reason that raising the temperature in the upper respiratory tract with a blow dryer can inhibit rhinovirus replication, at least temporarily.
- Rhinovirus dies at temperatures above 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). Raising the temperature of the nasal passages and throat that high could actually kill the virus that causes colds.
- Warming and drying the nasal passages with a hair dryer shrinks swollen nasal membranes, temporarily relieving pain and pressure, even if the replication of the virus is not stopped.
But Wait a Minute
Reasons a hair dryer might not work
To be honest, I question the effectiveness of using a hair dryer as a cold remedy and here's why.
- A blow dryer might stop replication temporarily, but wouldn't it start right back up as soon as the heat is taken away?
- Even if you can get the very front of the nose heated enough to kill some of the virus, wouldn't it be very difficult and painful to heat deep enough into the nasal passages to kill a significant number?
- And what about the dry skin and chafing?
Try This Steam Inhaler - Recommended for colds and other respiratory ailments
For cold, flu, bronchitis, sinusitis, laryngitis, and allergy sufferers, this personal steam inhaler restores sufficient moisture to the lungs and respiratory tract. The patented plastic hood is contoured to cradle the face comfortably and directs warm moist air right into the nose and throat to temporarily relieve nasal, sinus, and chest congestion. Water goes into the unit’s easy-to-fill base where a patented heater gently boils it. The adjustable control lets you choose the amount of steam that rises up into the hood. A short 5- to 15-minute treatment is all that is required to make nasal and throat passages feel clearer. (from the amazon product description)
More about the Blow Dryer Treatment for the Common Cold - Resources I consulted in preparing this page
- Advantages of the Hair Dryer Trick
A nice post in a metafilter thread pointing out what I have mentioned on this page, plus some other advantages of the hair dryer trick, like its safety for children and the elderly.
- Rhinovirus Entry in Microbe Wiki
More than you ever wanted to know about the rhinovirus.