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Colds and Cold

December 14th, 2013 · No Comments

The word “malaria” comes from the Latin for “bad air”. Before the mosquito connection was discovered, people thought that the disease came from exposure to air from swamps. Black Plague in the middle ages was also thought to be caused by exposure to bad air, and the rat-flea connection was only discovered in the 19th century or later.

There are similar examples that we scoff at today, but how about the belief that exposure to cold air causes the common cold? It is commonly accepted that viruses are involved, but there is a strongly held belief that exposure to cold somehow reduces the bodies resistance to the infection or enables the transmission. How often do you hear mothers admonishing their kids to put on a coat so they don’t get sick?

We all know that colds seem to increase in the winter. One theory that the increase is because of crowding indoors during cold winter months doesn’t seem to apply to a place like Phoenix, where people are more likely to crowd indoors during the hot summer months and come outside during the pleasant winter months, yet colds are more prevalent here in the winter too.

The latest research indicates that there may be a connection between the cooling of the nasal passages and the susceptibility of being infected, though of course the virus has to be present. Research also indicates that cooling of the body in general does not seem to have an effect on the immune system, though extreme chilling of the body core itself may be an exception.

My take from this is to only wear a jacket if it truly makes me more comfortable. But of course, medical experts insist that the best way to avoid infection by rhino-virus is to frequently wash your hands, and avoid hand-eye or hand-nose contact. Breathing someone elses sneeze or kissing a sick person are also probably bad ideas, and under no circumstances should you kiss someone while they are sneezing.

Tags: Computers, Tech & Science · Opinion

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