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Dublin: 13°C Saturday 23 October 2021

Cold weather CAN make you more likely to catch a cold

The cold virus thrives in a cold environment, a recent Yale study found.


‘WRAP UP WARM or you’ll catch a cold’. It’s one of the most debated statements when it comes to health, with some putting it down as an old wives’ tale that you can’t get sick just by being in cold weather.

So, can you catch a cold in cold weather or not?

A Yale University study seems to have found some clue to the answer.

Researchers found that the common cold virus can reproduce itself more efficiently in the cooler temperature found inside the nose than at core body temperature.

Catch a cold 

This finding may confirm the popular, yet contested, notion that people are more likely to catch a cold in cold weather conditions.

According to Yale News, researchers have long known that the most frequent cause of the common cold, the rhinovirus, thrives in the slightly cooler environment of the nasal cavity than in the warmer lungs.

However, the focus of prior studies has been on how body temperature influenced the virus as opposed to the immune system, said study senior author and Yale professor of immunobiology Akiko Iwasaki.


However, to investigate the relationship between temperature and immune response, the Yale researchers examined the cells taken from the airways of mice.

They compared the immune response to the common cold when cells were incubated at 37 degrees Celsius, or core body temperature, and at the cooler 33 degrees Celsius.

The new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, confirmed the finding that cold viruses replicated more efficiently and produced higher levels of infectious particles at a lower temperature.

“We found that the innate immune response to the rhinovirus is impaired at the lower body temperature compared to the core body temperature,” said Iwasaki.

The study found that it is the varying temperatures that influence the immune response, rather than the virus itself.

“That proves it’s not just virus intrinsic, but it’s the host’s response, that’s the major contributor,” Iwasaki explained.

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