Is it true that the cold does not make you sick?: this is what the experts say

Is it true that the cold does not make you sick?: this is what the experts say
Is it true that the cold does not make you sick?: this is what the experts say

Low temperatures make people try to keep warm, and they stay in closed and often poorly ventilated spaces (Illustrative Image Infobae)

“Wrap up warm or you’ll get sick,” mothers of yesteryear used to say, although some mothers today repeat the phrase like a command.

However, the new generations of parents have information that the previous ones did not have, which makes them respond to more than one worried grandfather seeing his grandson in a T-shirt outdoors in winter: “the cold does not make you sick”. Is this real? Why, in that case, is there no one these days who doesn’t know someone who is in bed with the flu or at least a cold?

“I think it is essential to demystify the myth that the cold makes you sick. This is not the case. What the cold does is predispose you to conditions that make you sick more often.” circulation of respiratory viruses“, he began to explain when asked by Infobae the head of Internships at the Reina Fabiola Clinic of the Catholic University of Córdoba and former president of the Society of Internal Medicine of Córdoba, Ignacio Gutierrez Magaldi (MP 32214 / ME 15051).

For a disease to occur, there must be some alteration in the host, the environment and an agent (Getty)

In line with his colleague, the clinical physician Ramiro Heredia (MN 117,882), from the Internal Medicine Department of the José de San Martín Clinical Hospital in the City of Buenos Aires, said that “when temperatures drop, many diseases begin to subside, such as cases of dengue and diseases such as acute diarrhea, while others become more frequent.”

This last is what is seen these days with the acute respiratory infections. It is that, “typically, when winter begins, Cases of common cold, pharyngitis, laryngitis, bronchitis, and bronchiolitis are increasingmostly caused by different respiratory viruses,” said the specialist, who when asked if the cold makes you sick, replied that “no, the cold alone is not enough.”

“It is always said that The beginning of a disease is that there is some alteration in the host, the environment and the agent -Gutiérrez Magaldi continued at this point-. The etiological agent, in this case the virus, is strong at these times because there is more circulation due to the weather conditions; in addition, due to the weather conditions, people tend to lock themselves in and ventilate their homes less, which generates an environment that favors the proliferation of pathogens. And if there is also susceptibility of the host, this can affect it.”

Gutiérrez Magaldi: “I think it is essential to demystify the myth that cold makes you sick” (Europa Press)

As seen, low temperatures make people try to warm up, to be in closed spacesand often poorly ventilated. And all that exposes to a higher pathogen loadin particular, respiratory viruses, whose concentration in the environment is increasing.

“Furthermore, the cold causes a very important defense barrier that our respiratory system has, which is the mucociliary system, to be less efficient,” Heredia added about how the cold affects the body.

And he specified: “Indeed, the hair cellswhich line our respiratory tract, together with the mucus that is deposited on them, act as a conveyor belt that prevents different particles from the environment, such as viruses and bacteria, from reaching the lungs and infecting them. The cold makes this whole purification process slower.”.

In addition, according to Gutiérrez Magalldi, “there are some pathologies, such as arterial hypertensionwhich requires extreme caution with the cold.” This is because the cold increases the peripheral resistance of blood vessels and predisposes to increased blood pressure,” he explained.

As with hypertensive patients, during the winter months people with chronic respiratory diseases, such as those with diabetes, must take special care of their health. Asthmatic patients, people with COPD, smokerswho may be at higher risk of complications from a viral infection.”

Heredia: “In winter, cases of the common cold, pharyngitis, laryngitis, bronchitis, and bronchiolitis increase, mostly caused by different respiratory viruses” (Getty)

Finally, “patients who suffer from some rheumatic diseasessuch as Raynaud’s phenomenon, may suffer more from the sensation of cold in the extremities that could turn purple due to vasoconstriction, which generates less blood circulation.”

It is clear at this point that the cold itself does not make you sick or cause illness. Technically, what happens, as Heredia explained, is that “certain virusessuch as rhinovirus, responsible for half of all common colds, which is the most common acute illness in the developed world, They reproduce better at low temperaturessuch as those that occur in the nostrils, and even more so in winter.”

Likewise, “many viruses, such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus -responsible for acute bronchiolitis, so important in infants, small children and older adults, among others, have a clear seasonal behavior, with predominance in autumn and winter,” added the specialist from the Hospital de Clínicas.

And he added: “And the SARS-CoV-2still without a clear seasonality, is also present all year round, but the lower ventilation of spaces in autumn and winter also greatly favors it.”

Beyond the diseases caused by respiratory viruses, it is important in winter to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning (Illustrative Image Infobae)

Knowing that many winter-related illnesses are of viral origin, Heredia recommended “keep vaccinations up to date against respiratory viruses such as COVID-19 and influenza.”

“The vaccine against the Respiratory Syncytial Virus has now been added to the vaccination schedule for pregnant women in weeks 32 to 36 of pregnancy, and is also available for people aged 60 or older,” said the specialist, who advised “those for whom it is indicated should receive the vaccine against Pneumococcus, the bacteria that most frequently causes pneumonia.”

Regarding primary prevention measures, Gutiérrez Magaldi recommended:

  • Do not expose yourself to sudden changes in temperature
  • Ventilate homes (as seen, it is essential, since this reduces the possibility of virus proliferation)
  • Cough into the crook of your elbow
  • Wash your hands frequently (with soap and water when at home or with alcohol solutions)

Finally, Heredia named among the conditions to prevent in winter “the carbon monoxide poisoningwhich are much more frequent at this time”, and also, “the hipotermia accidentalwhich also in times of extreme cold becomes a problem not only in recreational activities but also for vulnerable people such as those who are homeless.”

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