Does getting wet or catching cold actually increase the chance of coming down with flu, colds, pneumonia etc?


Does getting wet or catching cold actually increase the chance of coming down with flu, colds, pneumonia etc?

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When you get cold/wet, your body’s main focus is on trying to keep you warm. Therefore it can’t fight off germs that well, as it’s too focused on trying to keep you warm.

Yes and no.

Keep in mind most of those are caused by virus or bacterial infections. So if we could put a person in a lab environment that we know is “clean” and none of those viruses/bacteria are in it, they wouldn’t get sick with those illnesses period no matter what we did to them.

In the real world, there’s probably almost always SOMETHING you’ve been exposed to that could make you sick. If your body is healthy, it can fight off a lot of that. When you’re wet or cold, your body has to work harder at keeping its temperature regulated. When it’s working harder at something, it can’t be working as hard at fighting off infections.

So you asked the question right: being in unideal conditions like that means you are *more likely* to get sick. But it’s not a guarantee, and you don’t catch a cold just from *being* cold. It’s from being exposed to a virus *and* your body’s immune system being overwhelmed.

So put another way: a kid going to school is way more likely to be impacted by being too cold than a mountain hermit going to chop wood, because the kid’s extremely likely to be exposed to someone carrying something that can infect them where our mountain hermit’s more in danger of being exposed to bears.

I read a study a while back that said being wet or cold weather had very little to do with being sick. The uptick in sickness during wet or cold weather was caused by being trapped inside buildings with poor ventilation with people carrying the infection.

A few things are going on

It is very common for the body to react to cold in a similar manner as it might react to a rhino virus – especially increased mucus production and sneezing. The body is trying to warm up air between intake and the lungs. This is not the same as being sick, but it can be uncomfortable and manifest itself somewhat as if one were sick.

Perhaps in some cases the body trying to “focus” on staying warm means the immune system is less capable of fighting off an actual illness and increasing susceptibility to it.

A true illness is caused by either bacteria or a virus and is contracted, usually from touching a contaminated surface. If people are sneezing and coughing and blowing their nose because they are cold, then that increases contact with the vulnerable parts of the face.

People huddled together inside because its cold increases chances of communicability.

There is some research showing that flu and other viruses are more resilient in cold weather. It’s like they have a “protective” layer on them which “melts off” in warm weather, so they can thrive easier travel more and stick around longer in cold weather.

So the stage is set pretty well for more people to get sick during cold weather, and also for more people who aren’t actually sick to appear as if they were sick.