Winter is known as cold and flu season, but have you ever wondered why that is? New research shows that chillier temperatures may be playing a part in making us more vulnerable to the common cold.
Study Indicates Cold Weather Can Affect Immune Response
A new study, just published in December of 2022 found that colder temperatures killed off a large amount of virus and bacteria-fighting cells within the nostrils. These cells are known as nasal epithelium-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs). From the study:
“These potent antiviral immune defense functions mediated by TLR3-stimulated EVs were impaired by cold exposure via a decrease in total EV secretion as well as diminished microRNA packaging and antiviral binding affinity of individual EV.”
While more research is needed, this study’s compelling results seem to indicate that part of the reason we get sicker in the winter is in fact due to how cold it is outside. However, the temperature is not the only factor.
Staying Indoors Makes It Easier To Catch a Cold
Though Utah is beautiful in the wintertime, you are probably spending more time indoors meeting friends in places like Wicked Peel Pizza Kitchen instead of being outdoors. While being inside keeps you warm, it also puts you in closer contact with many other people who are laughing, talking and breathing close to you in a confined space. This makes it easier for colds and other upper respiratory viruses to spread.
Winter Air Is Dry
Another factor that could increase our risk of illness is that air is typically drier in colder temperatures. This can dry out the mucus membranes in your nose and cause tiny tears, making it easier for a virus to infect you. It can also exacerbate irritation caused by an existing cold.
While you can’t completely eliminate your chances of getting sick, you can take steps to minimize your risk by:
- Regularly washing your hands with soap and warm water
- Avoid touching your face as much as possible
- Steer clear of others who are exhibiting cold symptoms
- Disinfect regularly touched surfaces in your home
Could It Be More Than a Cold?
Most times, a cold will go away after a few days of rest and hydration. However, if you have symptoms like nasal congestion, sore throat and a chronic cough that persist for weeks or even months, you should make an appointment to get checked out as it may be a sign of another illness.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our experts, contact South Valley Ear Nose & Throat today.