Tuesday, March 20, 2012

You'll catch your death... or not.

I walked out of the College this afternoon and immediately broke into the Hallelujah Chorus of sneezing... once I'd made it through that last crescendo ("Aaaaaaaaaaa -AAAAAAAAAA- CCCCChhhhhhhooooooo") I breathed in deeply from the pollen soaked air around me... and thus welcomed spring-time into my sinuses.

At first there was a moment of panic. I have a cold!  Then, the reality set in... I'll just be popping antihistamines for a month or so.

However, on the subject of colds (of which we've had waaay to much experience this season), I'd like to address the following myth(s).

You can catch a cold from a) the draft from an open window or b) from being out in the cold.

Neither of these are true.  Only a cold virus can give you a cold. So being cold, in and of itself, can't make you sick.

However... being cold and wet can cause a dormant virus (one that's already in your system) to pop up it's ugly l'il head.

At Cardiff University a few years ago, a group of 90 warm-hearted folks soaked their feet in ice water for 20 minutes. Over the next five days, the Popsicle-toed group had twice as many colds as the control of 90 who didn't... um...well, get cold feet.

So, here's what the lab coats say... Being chilled causes the blood vessels in the nose to constrict, shutting off the warm blood that supplies infection-fighting white blood cells. Since most of us are carrying around cold germs (a 'la Contagion), when we get chilled it's harder to fight off the effects.  And then Mom seems right when she hollars out, "Bundle up and stay dry or you'll catch your death of cold!"

Now you know...

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