Do People Get Sick From Being Cold?
Becoming Sick Because You're Freezing Cold
Colds and influenza seem to be queued up during the winter and if you have small children attending school or kindergarten, it's likely you won't get through the cold months of winter without getting a family bout of stomach flu at least once.
It simply feels as if the germs jump on us more readily during the winter months. But is it true?
Pretty much - yes, we do get more sick in the colder months, which is due to a number of things. Initially we're often more indoors where perhaps several people are gathered together in a smaller space that isn't well ventilated, which can lead to a greater risk of infection.
Naturally, we freeze more in winter. The often low temperatures also affects how many germs/illnesses we get, and we have a tendency to freeze and become more easily cold and chilly. When we're cold, blood circulation is reduced and we are then more at risk of becoming infected.
But can you become sick because of being freezing cold?
Well, there are a lot of myths, stories and old wives tales dealing with solutions to overcome those annoying winter colds, but what is really true?
Tea with Honey and Lemon
Hot tea helps a sore throat - or does it?
If you have a sore throat it's more than likely you'll automatically want to drink hot drinks. But does it help to cure a sore throat at all?
Tea or hot drinks don't provide a cure for a sore throat, but can be pain relieving and soothing. It's also true to say that generally you feel much better when you give yourself some care and attention like a hot drink, a rug and a good movie or book, curled up on the sofa.
- Although, tea with honey and lemon is very soothing for a scratchy sore throat, that hurts when you swallow and does really help to prevent coughing bouts.
People get sick from being cold - or do they?
The myth that people can get sick from the cold is one of the most persistent and for many is part of what they heard when growing up - but is there any truth in it?
Yes and no. People obviously get a cold virus all the time, but not from actually being freezing cold. However, the virus can penetrate us far more easily when we are freezing cold.
Vitamin C keeps the flu away - Have you eaten your orange today?
People get sick, because they forget to eat oranges! We've probably heard this countless times while growing up. But is it true or false?
Again, it's a yes and a no. Vitamin C can help to boost the immune system, but it's not recommended that large single doses of vitamin C be taken to prevent illness. One should generally eat a varied diet and ensure that the required vitamins comes in with that diet.
The Cochrane analysis at www.cochrane.org carried out in 2004 researched whether vitamin C has preventive effect on colds. The conclusion here was that it could not recommend the use of large vitamin C doses for the purpose of cold or influenza prevention.
You get rheumatism from sitting in a draft - how true is that?
You must at all costs avoid sitting in a draft. It's bad for your health including the risk of muscles tension. True or false?
The answer again is both yes and no and the reasons are many. Rheumatism or muscle spasms are contractions and irritations of muscles and joints that often occur when awkward moves are made or prolonged overloads are undertaken.
One can easily imagine that when sitting in a draft and freezing at the same time, you start to sit in awkward positions, and yes with a risk in the long term of contracting rheumatism.
You get sick from going outside with wet hair?
Many children and young people through the ages had to listen to worried, well meaning mothers who said that they should dry their hair before they go outside.
But is there something to it? Can wet hair in the winter cold make you sick?
Yes and no. Because no, you're not going to get sick from having wet hair, but when it's cold outside and we go out with wet hair, then there is a risk that we are going to freeze.
When we're cold we're more exposed to infection as opposed to being warm and dry.
Keeping your feet warm
Having cold feet can make you sick - or?
One thing is to freeze, quite another is to have freezing cold feet. We've all heard that we should avoid this at all costs. What's true and false about having cold feet.
Cold feet don't usually bring any sort of illness, if you're body is otherwise warm. But when we have cold feet, the feeling of being cold is often spread to the rest of the body. Once that happens our body cools down and we can become more susceptible to illness.
To put things into perspective, a test was made at the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University URL referenced below, which showed that more people developed colds 4 to 5 days after they got their feet chilled in cold water compared to a control group that had their feet in an empty basin.
Tell Us About Your Experiences
It's high season for colds, flu and sore throats. How do you avoid becoming sick?
- The Cochrane Collaboration | Working together to provide the best evidence for health care
- Cardiff University - Common Cold Centre
Common Cold Centre - A centre of excellence devoted to the development of new treatments for coughs, colds and hay fever.