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Baby it’s cold outside. Is that why people get sick? Or is the cold weather story a myth?

Posted Dec 03 2009 8:35am
According to my research, the Cold Weather School of Thought — that being outside in cold weather can greatly increase the chance of getting a cold or flu–has some validity and some myth to it. I’m especially tuned into the Cold Weather Theory today because the temps in Iowa have gone from a balmy 61 degrees this week (who needs California???) back to reality-based 28 degrees.  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

One recent piece in Reader’s Digest Canada give one expert’s opinion:  “Although colds and flu are more common in the winter months, this has less to do with the weather than with confinement indoors. Viruses spread much more quickly in dry, heated, indoor areas where air doesn’t circulate well, and direct contact with germs is far more likely. Plus, central heating systems dry out mucus membranes, which are the body’s natural defense against viruses”

I remember going to an osteopath years ago when I had a pretty bad case of winter crud. I was expecting the doc to just give me the 30-second once-over and write my 10-day z-pack prescription. But he didn’t. He told me to go home, get on the couch, drink a gallon of water a day for 2-3 days and I’d start seeing significant improvement. He said beer, coffee and soda don’t count, as they are diaretics and zap moisture from your body; you drink a pint of beer or coffee and you pee out two pints. Not good. The objective is for your body to retain water, not extract it.  So it has to be water or juice.

Another doc told me that those dry mucous membranes mentioned above are perfect harbors for germs and viruses. They are looking for a warm, moist (but not wet) place to cling to and multiply. So dried-out throats and nasal passages are perfect.  Plenty of water intake and saline nasal spray can make those surfaces more problematic for the crud critters. They can’t multiply as easily if they are regularly washed away.

The following videos, both using health experts, don’t really agree on temperature change as a direct contributor to getting sick.  See what you think:

cold and cold weather

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