Sense or Nonsense: “Put a coat on! You’ll catch a cold!”


It’s so easy to think that cold weather causes colds.  Winter comes, we go out into the cold, and we get colds!  It’s cause and effect!

But it’s not.  Cold weather doesn’t cause colds.  Going outside with wet hair doesn’t cause colds.

A cold is an upper respiratory infection caused by a set of viruses (called rhinoviruses).  Neither cold weather nor wet weather cause colds.  Further, cold weather does NOT weaken the immune system.  Imagine if it did!  If cold weather weakened our immune systems, we would be more likely to get all types of sicknesses in the cold.  We’d be one sick species.

Colds are more frequent during the winter months because we more more likely to come into contact with secretions from others who have colds.  We get colds more often during the cold weather because we are indoors more often, and are more likely to be in contact with other people.   Children get more colds in the winter because they are indoors more often.   And children get more colds than adults because children have not yet built up the immunity to the number of viruses that adults have.

Kids are in the business of getting sick.  That way, they build up immunities for various viruses.