Does Cold Weather Cause Colds?: Health Myths You May Have Heard Around the Holidays

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It’s the holiday season, but that also coincides with cold and flu season. These two times merge as temperatures plummet and people begin to travel. To keep yourself healthy this winter, you might need to unlearn some of the health myths you’ve heard around the holidays.

Does Cold Weather Cause Colds?

Health Myths Cold Weather Causes Colds


The common cold, like the flu, is caused by a virus, not by cold temperatures as many health myths would have you believe. Just standing in a walk-in freezer or outside on a cold day will not give you a cold. Though, the cold weather has long had an association with this ailment. In most cases, being in a closed environment with people you haven’t seen for a while, shaking hands, hugging, and kissing creates a prime place to pass germs. Most scientists attribute this to why more colds and cases of flu appear during the holidays than at other times of the year. However, recent studies have shown that cold air may make it easier for the cold virus to replicate in the nose, though the cold weather does not cause the cold. You have to pick up the virus first.

You Lose Half Your Body Heat Through Your Head

Health Myths You Don't Lose Half Your Body Heat Through Your Head


As a child, you may have been reminded by a parent to wear a hat in cold weather because you lose half of your body heat through your head. But this is another of the many health myths that does not hold true. The head is such a small proportion of the entire body, and for most people, it’s covered in hair. Can you really lose so much heat from your head to suffer cold illnesses? After some scientific study, experts showed that the heat lost through the head was proportionate to the percentage of the body’s surface area taken by the head. Heat loss through the head accounted for only 7 to 10 percent of all heat lost, and the head is only about 7 percent of the body. While you won’t lose the majority of heat through your head, if you stay more comfortable in the winter with a hat, keep it on.

Hangovers Have a Cure

Health Myths Staying Hydrated is Good But Not a Hangover Cure

Photo: Flickr/Antoine K

Sorry partiers, but hangovers don’t have a cure, no matter how many nutrition drinks or pills are pushed for a miracle remedy. A hangover results from the body’s reaction to processing excessive amounts of alcohol. Sadly, the only true cure for a hangover is time. You cannot take a hair of the dog and sip on more alcohol the next morning, and no matter how tasty a plate of migas for breakfast is, it won’t get rid of the hangover.

While you’re waiting for your blood alcohol level to get back to zero, drink up on electrolyte-containing beverages since dehydration contributes to many hangover symptoms. If possible, sleep while you can, and get a good breakfast to get your system going. This is especially important if you experienced any nausea or vomiting, as low blood sugar can make you feel even sicker. To prevent a hangover, don’t drink as much the night before, and only drink on a full stomach to slow the absorption of alcohol.

Prevent Food Poisoning by Cooking Food Until It Looks Done

Health Myths Always Use a Food Thermometer

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Many a home cook has foregone the meat thermometer and used the age-old test of “it just looks done,” but this is one of the many health myths that could make you sick if you follow it. Since meat comes from different animals, sometimes cooking meat until all the pink is gone or until it looks fully cooked may not work. If the food has not been cooked thoroughly, you risk food poisoning, which can sideline you and your family for several days. Always use a meat thermometer to test the innermost portion of the meat, but don’t allow the probe to touch the bone.

You should also use the thermometer with stuffing cooked inside a turkey and leftovers, both of which should reach 165℉ to kill off any bacteria. If you have leftovers, cool them to below 40℉. Or keep it warm above 140℉ until you can cool and store it. By cooking food thoroughly and treating leftovers properly, you’ll avoid getting sick.

How to Stay Healthy

Health Myths Stay Healthy

Photo: Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture

Avoid believing health myths during the winter, and keep yourself healthy this holiday season. Cook food thoroughly, and use a food thermometer to test for proper doneness. To prevent spreading or picking up germs, wash your hands frequently, and use hand sanitizer if you cannot wash. Cover your mouth and nose with your arm instead of your hands when you sneeze or cough, and get plenty of rest during this hectic time of year.