“Put on a jacket, or you’ll catch a cold.” How many times have you heard that? And, is it true?
It’s not true, at least not directly.
“Being cold won’t make you sick. Viruses will be causing respiratory tract infections,” said Pang-Chieh Ho with Consumer Reports.
There are more than 200 viruses that can cause a cold. Any one of them can be more likely to spread in winter as people spend more time indoors by increasing exposure to germs transmitted through air or contact with infected surfaces and eventually making it into your nose, mouth, or eyes.
Mucus in the nose also plays an important part. It helps trap bacteria we breathe in before they can cause an infection.
“Low humidity in heated environments can cause the lining in our noses to get dry, making it easier for germs to invade the body,” Ho said.
Using a humidifier to moisten the air may help.
Levoit, Honeywell, and Babymoov models earn top marks in Consumer Reports tests and cost between $55 and $100.
What about our immune systems? There may be an indirect link between cold weather and catching a cold because our immune systems function best when our body temperature is well-regulated.
So there is good reason to bundle up when it’s chilly outside.
Frequent handwashing, avoiding contact with sick people, and wearing a mask can help prevent catching a cold.