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Do Cooler Temps Lead to More Colds?

By Mary-Frances Walsh, 9:00 am on

At one time, it was assumed that the common cold was affected by colder temps before scientists claimed that wasn’t case. Now the barometer has shifted again as new research suggests that there may, in fact, be a direct correlation between colder temperatures and an increased susceptibility to colds.

Colds and the Immune System

A Yale University study read by Sonoma County senior care professionals suggests that mothers were right all along in urging kids and grandkids to bundle up before venturing outdoors. The purpose of the study was to move a step closer towards understanding how colder temperatures affect the immune system’s ability to fight off any of the 200 or so viruses that can cause a cold.

Behavior of the Cold Virus

The study involved cells from the airways of mice incubated at different temperatures. The conclusion was that colder temperatures didn’t affect how the virus behaves, but cooler temps did seem to affect how the immune system responds to the foreign invader. Therefore, previous studies suggesting that cold whether has no affect on the cold virus itself are actually correct.

Failing to Stop Virus Replication

Researchers determined that, in the cells studied, it was the colder temperatures that prevented the immune system from stopping virus replication. In order words, certain mechanisms within the immune system, like type I interferons, appear to function better in warmer weather. When parts of the immune system work at a slower pace, the cold virus has a better opportunity to set up shop and take a greater toll on virus-fighting white blood cells.

More research is needed to determine if these results translate to humans. With more than 130 million cumulative potential work hours lost each year due cold-related illness, however, the findings do at least provide an added incentive to bundle up when heading outside as temperatures drop.

Bundling up is just one way seniors can keep themselves healthy and safe during the winter season. Receiving help from a trusted caregiver in Sonoma County is another. If your senior loved one could use help with errands, preparing nutritious meals, or could just use companionship, reach out to Home Care Assistance. In addition to live-in and hourly care, we also provide dementia, stroke, and Alzheimer’s care Sonoma County families rely on. To learn more, give us a call at (707) 843.4368 and speak with a dedicated Care Manager.