Medical and Science

Bundle Up or You Will Catch a Cold

Catch a Cold

Photo by [marin]

Now I know everyone must of heard this one while growing up. “Bundle up or you will catch a cold“, is a common phrase heard around the world relating to cold prevention. But is there really any truth to it? If you wrap yourself up like a freaking Eskimo will it keep the germs away from you?
I have several personal thoughts on this. I believe that the cold weather may possibly cause your immune system to slow down which would make you more apt to catch a cold. I mean, it kind of makes sense, but there may not be any medical facts to back that up.
Let’s take a look at some more thoughts about whether we should bundle up, so we won’t catch a cold.

What is the Common Cold

The common cold is very, well…, common. According to statistics, most folks will catch a cold approximately two times a year, maybe upwards to five a year. And oh man, if we include those kidos that are going to public schools, then this number may increase to even ten colds a year. Considering how common it is to catch a cold, you’d think medical science would have a better understanding of what causes them and how to prevent catching one.


For many centuries, mothers have been preaching to their children the importance of staying inside where it’s warm. Or to make sure we don’t get our head or feet wet before going outside. Now this is probably some pretty sound advice, I’m not saying all these mothers are wrong, but according to experts, the actual effects that cold weather has on our bodies where “colds” are concerned, is not well understood.


Does Cold Weather `Cause` a Cold?

Just for the record, cold weather in and of itself does not cause a cold. We now know, thanks to science, that the major leading cause of a `cold` is the human rhinovirus. But it’s not just one variety of the cold virus. There are actually over one hundred varieties of serotypes that make up this family of germs. In fact, there are so many different types, that you could have colds all your life and never see the same one often enough to build up an immunity to them.


During the times when disease transmission and treatments weren’t very well understood, respiratory tract infections were seen as being much worse during the winter months. Therefore people would blame the weather for their sickness. If you were thinking this is probably how the `cold` got it’s nickname, then you were right. People started calling their sickness a `cold` seeing how the cold weather was the cause. But their analysis may not of been accurate.


Of course we all know that there is such a thing as the “cold season” which happens to be during the cooler months. This is due to the rhinovirus being more active during the fall and spring. Then during the winter months what we associate with a `cold` is more likely an encounter with what’s known as the flu virus.


There are some factors that we’ve created ourselves that can contribute to how we catch a cold during winter months. For example, the environmental factors during the colder months such as folks staying indoors more and the kids are all back in the school rooms. Of course all the kids being crammed into the same building with one another will increase their odds of coming into contact with more germs or a virus.


Not only that, but it’s been discovered that the rhinovirus thrives at humidity levels that are present only during the cooler months of the year. But like I was saying earlier, the actual cold weather itself may make your body more susceptible to a cold due to decreased immune system activity. I’ll elaborate on this in a second.


Scientific Research on Should We Bundle Up

So, with what we know now, let’s take a look at some of the scientific research done on colds and just see if we need to bundle up during the winter.


Eleni Mourtzoukou and Matthew Falagas from the Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Athens did some research on whether we should bundle up or not. Some of their experiments, which included information gained from Ronald Eccles at Cardiff University, pointed out that subjects having their feet dipped into cold water for twenty minutes were twice as likely to catch a cold then folks that didn’t have this done.


One possible explanation for this behavior is that the cold elements could slow down white blood cell circulation through the body. Of course we all know that white blood cells are the ones that help our bodies to fight infection and disease. It’s one of the major components of our immune system.


The cold may also cause blood vessels to contract in your body, this is known as vasoconstriction. This kind of reaction would lessen the chances that your respiratory system would be able to filter out the germs or virus.


Should We Believe the Science

There have been many clinical trials over the decades that may prove this science inaccurate. It’s been shown that by dabbing infected mucus on the tip of someone’s nose will have the same effect on them regardless of the temperature. Meaning, yes, they will catch a cold of course, but it doesn’t matter if it’s in warm weather or in cold weather.


But… I think this kind of experiment is a bit harsh considering we’re talking two totally different things here. Dabbing infected mucus directly onto someone’s nose is not exactly a natural way that someone would contract a cold. So this experiment seems a bit unfair, but who am I, right?


But believe it or not, this shady experiment has led some doctors to discount the Alfa Institute’s findings saying cold weather does not increase someone’s chance to catch a cold. And get this, it’s because they believe the Institute’s experiments were not done in a manner that mimicked real world situations. And to think, I thought it was the other way around!

So basically we don’t know anything more than we did when we started. Some say it does, some say it doesn’t. But I like to be proactive, I say bundle up, because it certainly couldn’t hurt. Plus you don’t want all your body heat to escape and give you a case of hypothermia do you?
Just a couple of tips to help prevent the catching of a cold. How you catch a cold is all dependent on how you care for yourself. Always be sure to wash your hands frequently and don’t be touching your face all the time. Germs will transfer from your hands onto your face and into the body they go. So in other words, using good hygiene is pretty good prevention from catching a cold, plus it’s more sanitary than being a dirty
Prevention is the best medicine of all, why build immunities to something when you can prevent it in the first place. Besides, millions of moms can’t be wrong!
Any more great cold prevention tips? Let us know in the comments…

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18 thoughts on “Bundle Up or You Will Catch a Cold
    1. I have heard of people having pretty good response to home remedies. There are some great ones that have been proven over the years. I’d love for you to share some of your remedies in the comments if you have time. 🙂

  1. Flu viruses are more constant in colder, dryer conditions concern that they stay infected for a longer duration after avoidance the ill person’s body

    1. I hear ya Zablss, we had some episodes of the flu virus around here this last winter that were lasting for months. Some folks were very sick and would get over it for a short time, then it would come back. Some very bad stuff.

  2. This is a very helpful post and I hadn’t heard these theories before. They make sense. I have a nasty cold right now and casncelled a retreat I was going to lead tomorrow because I am sneezing and coughing. Your post validates my decision

    1. Oh man Martin, I hate to hear you’re down with the crud. I certainly hope you get well soon and are able to reschedule your retreat.

      You probably already know this, but lots of rest, plenty of fluids and maybe some chicken soup can go a long way. 🙂

  3. > One possible explanation for this behavior is that the cold elements could slow down white blood cell circulation through the body

    I had no idea about this. This is really good to know. White blood cells are a crucial for fighting colds and flu’s.

    Like you said, you should make sure to wash your hands every time you use the restroom or handle food.

    1. Absolutely, prevention is the best medicine. And that starts with good hygiene.

      Thanks for stopping by, hope you find time to visit again.

  4. really, prevention is always going to be better than cure.

    It it is not sure what are the causal factors for common cold to be that much common, bundling up may work well indeed!

  5. I wonder, how about the winter? Not so many people would got a cold. I think is low immune system is one of the causes like you said. And thanks to mom, we knew more things to keep good the health (although most are lectures)… 🙂

    1. Yah they normally do feel like lectures, but of course they’re delivered with the best intentions in mind. But I do believe a weakened immune system is to blame for most common colds.

  6. Russian people avoid drinking cold drinks on a hot day. They believe that it’ll make them sick.

    1. Interesting Christina….Here we would probably say that drinking a cold drink on a cold day would give you a cold. Although we don’t get near the type of cold weather that Russia does 🙂

  7. Great theories. I am a person that always catches a cold. I believe its because of my business i am interacting with lots of people on a daily basis. My grandmother always use to smear on our bodies Cognac and I would feel so much better the next day.

    1. Yah lots of personal interaction on a daily basis will often times lead to sickness. I work in a small office with several others and no one seems to want to take off work when their sick. So we just wind up passing it around for weeks, really is aggravating.

      Very cool info about the Cognac, thanks for sharing that info.

  8. At last! Someone prints the answer to one of those questions you have always wanted to learn more about – great job, Robert.

    Protect yourself from others that may be infected – that’s the answer – not matter the time of year.

    1. Some very sound advice Oliver. I tend to catch a cold every time I get around others that are sick. It’s very important to combat against such things, getting sick not only causes you to feel horrible, but may cost you a lot of money as well.

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