Many people consider cold weather as the direct cause of colds, which is just a myth and does not match with reality. Wear warm clothes, or you’ll get sick! – We often tried this exclamation at the door edge, or maybe we called out it to the people we care about the most. This habit has been passed down through the generations and has attained to us.
We should understand that the usual cause of colds is viruses. However, if this is just a myth, why do colds peak in the winter?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, millions of people are infected with the same cold symptom virus, and more than half of those cases are caused by Rhinovirus. Rhinovirus can also cause sore throats and ear infections, additionally bronchitis, and pneumonia in people with weakened immune systems. This virus spreads by airborne ways:
From person to person in direct contact
From contaminated surface to person
Once a virus enters the nose or mouth, it begins to multiply by binary fission and soon spreads throughout the respiratory tract.
Winter for viruses
As various studies showed, rhinoviruses much more effectively spread at a temperature below 37C°. The temperature inside the nasal cavity is approximately 33°C – 35°C. So, viruses ger ideal conditions in our body. However, this is not the only benefit from winter to viruses. Thanks to the laws of thermodynamics, cold air is a poor carrier of water vapor and it turns into a raindrop. As a result, the air in winter is much drier even though the weather seems wetter. And according to the steady stream of research over the past few years, dry conditions are the perfect environment for rhinoviruses to thrive.
Winter and cold weather also wear down our body’s defenses. During this season sunlight is less available. Consequently, the body can’t satisfy with vitamin D. As a professor of molecular medicine, Cynthia Aranow confirmed in a 2012 study, which has a crucial role in strengthening the immune system. Furthermore, in order to maintain heat when breathing cold air, the blood vessels in the nose constrict, which may prevent white, warrior cells from entering our mucous membranes. Thus, various viruses and bacteria easily cope with self-defenses. For the same reason, it is not worth going out with wet hair.
Our immune system has the ability to remember the disease once transmitted and in case of recurrence, it is much prepared. This point is used by doctors in vaccination. but why does this ability disappear in the case of seasonal viruses? Viruses mutate and change so quickly that our bodies are rarely prepared for the next season’s strain. Clinical Research Fellow at Bristol Medical School mentioned – “The antibodies we’ve built up no longer recognize the virus – so we lose our immunity”
How to protect yourself from seasonal colds
The best tool in the fight against any virus is to develop the right habits. Otherwise, we may promote infections.
Avoid close contact – If your friend has signs of coldness, offer distance support by maintaining good hygiene.
Cover your nose and mouth – use a medical mask. This will minimize the infection risk.
Wash your hands – often viruses reach our body through hands. Therefore, after outer contact, use every opportunity to bring your hands clean.
Do not touch the eyes, nose, or mouth – Avoid contact with the mucous membranes of your body before you wash hands.