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.

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Photo: Flickr/Antoine K

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