Surviving Winter: Does cold weather make you sick?

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As the seasons transition to the cooler months we can all forecast runny noses, soar throats and coughing spells. Colds and the flu peak in the winter but does cold weather make you sick?

Even the words “common cold” creates an idea that cooler air makes you more susceptible to colds. There are some links between weather and not only how easy it is to transmit viruses but how easy it is for your body to fight viruses.

Work Dr. Ellen Foxman has done showed that the body’s natural defense mechanisms against viruses can be impacted by temperature and humidity. Low humidity, being indoors more and coming back to school can all help transmit viruses from person to person.

Viruses spread three ways, through particles from a sneeze or cough, touching your nose or mouth after touching an infected surface, or through smaller particles called aerosols from signing, speaking or shouting.

Lack of humidity or dry air can help spread respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze. But humidity and warm conditions can protect your airways from viruses’. Dr. Foxman explained the role of body temperature, specifically in your lungs.

“The warm core body temperature helps promote the effective antiviral defenses from when you first get infected with the virus. And the cool, slightly just, lowering the temperature a few degrees in the lining of the airway can prevent those defenses from being really effective. And so, I don’t think, it’s not totally a myth that there’s a link between cold weather and susceptibility.”

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