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Genaro C. Armas
American Heart Association News
Zip up your coat or you’ll catch a cold!
Most people have probably heard some variation of that parental plea while growing up, or even directed such advice to their own children. It’s a sensible request, though when it comes to avoiding illness when temperatures dip, it’s not quite so simple.
For one, viruses may survive and reproduce more easily in the cold, dry air of winter. Plus, cold weather keeps people indoors, and viruses can spread more easily in close quarters. And although laboratory research suggests cold temperatures can make immune cells less effective, In the end, viruses – not the cold weather – are what make you sick.
While many different respiratory viruses cause the common cold, rhinoviruses are the most common trigger for those runny noses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rhinoviruses also can cause asthma attacks and have been linked to sinus and ear infections.
Most versions of rhinoviruses replicate more robustly in nasal passages, where the temperature is usually about 91 to 95 degrees, lower than the core body temperature of 98.6.Influenza viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 also can enter the body through the nose.
To avoid getting sick this winter, try t hese measures – wearing masks, especially indoors; social distancing; staying home; and hand-washing – to provide an important layer of protection. And people are urged to get their flu and COVID vaccines. Other tips to keep the immune system strong include exercising, eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep.
Some research shows an association between colder air temperatures and adverse impacts on cardiovascular health. For instance, a 2018 study in Sweden published in JAMA Cardiology found more heart attacks happened on days with low air temperatures, low air pressure, higher winds and shorter duration of sunlight.
A 2016 study in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases found lower average air temperatures and bigger 24-hour temperature swings were associated with hospitalizations for stroke. The authors cited a need for more research to determine why.
Sudden exertion stimulates adrenaline and a stress response in your body that may increase heart rate. It’s still important to stay active in the winter, though People should be mindful of their physical fitness before jumping straight into too strenuous of an activity. For instance, someone who is not as active should take breaks while clearing a foot of snow from their driveway – or to pay a service to do it.