Does cold, wet weather cause colds and flu?
According to Robert Bradsher, M.D., Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UAMS, colds are really upper respiratory infections and can result from more than 200 different viruses. These include rhinoviruses, the group most often associated with the common cold, which mainly affects the nose and throat. Cold weather usually makes people stay indoors, which might increase the person-to-person transmission of respiratory viruses.
“These viruses, including influenza, are very infectious and are transmitted from one person to the next by touching something that has had the respiratory virus on it and then touching your eye or nose or mouth,” Dr. Bradsher said. “Some believe that the lower humidity during the winter allows these viruses to persist longer in the environment. Washing your hands or using an alcohol-based handwashing solution is a good way to avoid getting a cold.”
If you are stuck inside during cold wet weather this fall and winter, be sure to follow Dr. Bradsher’s advice. Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, and try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
A few extra tips to keep from spreading germs if you think you have a cold:
- Use a tissue to cover your cough or sneeze. Immediately throw it away and sanitize your hands.
- No tissue? Do the “Dracula cough” and cough into the crook of your elbow instead of covering your cough with your hands.
- Wash your hands often. For the best cleaning, wash them for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
- Last but not least, give your body a break. Take care of yourself by monitoring your symptoms and seeing a doctor if you don’t continue to improve. Your healthcare providers are here for you!
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