It’s a correlation we arrive at almost instinctively. It’s the onset of winters and time to bring out the thick woolens, bundle indoors and gulp as much hot coffee as we possibly can. Anything to keep those awful colds and flu from ruining the season – because winters, naturally, also means the season for falling sick. Or is it?
Numerous researches and studies conducted through the years and in the recent past have examined this presumption – Is catching a cold more common in winters? And the verdict is unanimous.
It’s not actually winter that causes common cold, but what we do in winter, that perpetrates it.
As soon as it gets cold outside, we run indoors for cover…huddle together, often in close proximity with people and inevitably, viruses; which means, if even one person is carrying a cold virus, it is almost certain, that others around him/her, will catch it too, since the same air is being recycled, with no scope for ventilation.
Another significant factor is children and schools. A school environment is just perfect for these viruses to thrive and multiply in….and it’s no wonder that most cold epidemics can often be linked back to children.
Having said that, it’s crucial to point out, that there is a correlation however, between temperatures, humidity and these viruses. The viruses that cause the common cold – we say viruses, because there are several, really, and therefore no one cure for it – belong to a category of infectious agents called rhinovirus.
And rhinovirus react differently to different temperatures.
In cold temperature, for instance, they become very stable, while they become extremely unstable in higher temperatures and are thus, barely transmitted when it gets hotter.
The other important factor is humidity.
Influenza, for instance, is mainly transmitted through the tiny drops from your respiratory tract when you sneeze or cough. When the air around you is very humid, there is enough water for these droplets to cling on to, making them heavy in weight and drop to the ground faster – away from your mucus membrane.
However, in drier conditions, those same droplets hang around in the environment longer – letting people inhale them. Thus dry and cold conditions are in that sense more conducive for these viruses to spread in.
Lastly, how enduring your immune system is, also of course, plays a significant part in how vulnerable you might be to colds and also how severe those colds could get for you.