The common cold can strike at any time, but we often find that the occurrence of a head cold increases in the winter season. This timing leads people to ask: Is the contraction of a cold actually related to lower temperatures?

What Causes the Common Cold?

When you come down with a cold, it means that you have a viral infection that affects your upper respiratory tract. Doctors have found that more than 250 viruses could cause the common cold. Usually, a virus is transmitted by direct contact with someone who has a cold, or airborne droplets are inhaled when near a carrier.

Transmission is common in public places, such as schools, daycare facilities, airplanes, and more. The virus can survive on surfaces, then be picked up by people’s hands and carried to the nose, mouth, or eyes. This transmission process is why it is important to be diligent about hand washing, especially when spending time among large groups of people.

Weather Patterns and the Cold

Traditionally, the theory is that exposure to cold weather can cause people to “catch” a cold. The truth is that colds can occur throughout the year, but it is more common to have a cold in rainy or winter seasons. Some of these cold-causing viruses are seasonal, which means they are more prevalent when the weather cools down, and it is wet outside.

But, seasonality of colds hasn’t been proven. Remember that correlation doesn’t always mean causation. Just because the occurrence of head colds increases in the cooler months, doesn’t mean that the weather is the cause of the illness.

Some medical professionals suggest that cold temperatures suppress the immune system, making people more prone to an infection. The increase of the common cold in the cooler months could also be linked to social factors, such as children going back to school in the fall or people spending more time indoors near others who are infected with a cold virus.

Protecting Yourself Against the Common Cold

General health practices can be more important than you realize when it comes to protecting against the common cold. You can boost your immunity by getting enough sleep at night, eating foods that are high in antioxidants, maintaining healthy hand-washing habits, and minimizing exposure to other people with cold symptoms.