LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — If you live in a cold-weather state, you’ve likely been told to bundle up before heading outside in the winter for fear of getting sick. But will failing to dress warm really give you a cold?
As Summer Clay, a Physician’s Assistant with Sparrow Health System, tells News 2’s sister station, WLNS, the common colds are caused by viruses — more specifically, the rhinovirus — not the weather.
“You cannot alone get sick by going out in cold weather,” said Clay.
The common cold gets its name from its symptoms, which mimic how our bodies respond to cooler weather.
“Most of us have already experienced it,’ Clay continued. “We go out to shovel, and we take that deep breath of crisp cool air, and all of a sudden we cough.”
That’s just our lungs’ spasmatic response. Any nasal congestion or runny nose you experience while outside can also be attributed to a standard bodily response.
Clay attributed the increase in infections we see during the winter months to the way we respond to cold weather.
“We’re in these small, confined spaces, they’re not necessarily well-ventilated, and we’re just going to be around people that are transmitting these viruses a little more easily,” she explained.
Research has shown that viruses can be preserved in cooler temperatures. Additionally, cooler, dry air has been found to slightly hinder our ability to fight off viruses, meaning it’s still a good idea to bundle up before heading out in the cold.