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Does cold weather make you sick? Here is the truth.

As the winter arises, people tend to get sick. Viral illness, flu, or common cold gets standard around this time of the year. But have you ever wondered how winters cause disease in humans? What is the relation between cold weather and the common cold? We will answer all your burning questions in the next 4 minutes.

What causes the common cold?

Common cold or flu is not the result of cold chilly weather but of a virus. A group of viruses called Rhinoviruses causes the common cold, and the influenza virus causes the flu. But here is the twist! Cold weather can increase your chances of catching these viruses.

The relationship between weather and sickness

Let's put on our thinking cap!

Imagine you were walking on a dusty highway and caught the flu. Once you are infected, you will become a breeding ground for the virus. You, the disease carrier, will start spreading the virus in your office, at your home, and to everyone you meet. 

You must be thinking; this happens all year round. So how does winter come into play?

The Innocent Summer

In summer, it's hot! You keep your windows open, and your air coolers and AC are on. Naturally, your house is well-ventilated, and the air in the room changes frequently. Plus, you avoid closed spaces with crowds.  

So, even if you walk around with the common cold, the virus you are spreading in the atmosphere will quickly get removed from the house! Thus, reducing the number of virus particles floating in the air. Minimizing the chances of others getting infected.

The Cruel Winter

In winter, we tend to spend more time indoors to protect ourselves from the cold, harsh winds. So we close all the windows and doors, get all cozy, sneak into our bed, and slurp on Adrak Wali Chai! But this cozy warmth comes at a cost. 

As all exit points are blocked, there is no ventilation. This means the virus will keep floating in the air, increasing the chances of spreading the infection. Some studies suggest that the virus can float inside a room for up to 24 hours! 

Why do viruses infatuate coldness?

According to a study published in the Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal, viruses survive and reproduce more efficiently at lower temperatures and in less humid areas. To make things easier for you, we have gone through the entire paper and come up with a simple summary. 

Take a look at how our experts explain this in an interactive video.

High temperature weakens the virus

High temperatures weaken the protective layer of the virus. Therefore, they are more prone to death in summer. Furthermore, the likelihood of infecting humans decreases with a rise in temperature due to a decrease in their binding affinity. 

It means that they cannot efficiently infect or stick to human cells. As the virus cannot reproduce without infecting us, they are seen in lower numbers in summer and rises in winter when the temperature decreases.

Cold weather affects our immunity

In winter, our noses dry up and become less sticky. And the nasal cavity has a lower temperature (91-95) than our body's internal temperature. This makes it easier for the virus to enter the mucus-free nasal cavity and replicate at low temperatures. 

Also, cold weather can suppress the functioning of immune cells by constricting blood flow and increasing stress hormone levels.

How to protect your selves from this love affair?

You would have a better chance of fighting off the cold or flu quickly and more efficiently if you took care of your immune system. Plus, your system will take less time to recover from the disease, and your organs will suffer less damage. So, exercise, eat a balanced diet, sleep well, and not take too much stress. 

Takeaway

While cold weather does not directly cause infections like the common cold and flu. However, it can indirectly make it easier for the virus to infect us. But remember that a robust immune system can protect you from this disease. Of course, we cannot say that your immune system is 100% effective against pathogens. Our body makes mistakes. But an immune system that is at its optimal can give you a fighting chance to not only fight off this virus quickly but also protect its entry into the body.

Sources

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2001037020305304
  2. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-scientists-offer-explanation-winter-flu-season

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