Winter can be a chilling experience, especially because colder temperatures often mean outbreaks of the rhinovirus, or the cold virus. Colder temperatures, gusty winds and snow – and bundling up to take it on – are all what can be expected in a typical North American winter. Even Florida can get frosty! No wonder so many of us like to head south for a beach vacation.
No matter where you live though, catching a cold is just a part of winter.
It would seem as temperatures continue to drop, the odds of you getting sick increase. Worse yet, even though you try your best to not catch a cold, all those around you have some sniffles, runny nose or cough. Is there any way to avoid getting sick this winter?
Well, there is some research that may have some insight to help you ward off a cold, and it doesn’t involve changing up your routine or eating a diet solely of chicken soup.
The new study, from Yale University and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has revealed the importance of keeping your nose warm to keep yourself healthy. That’s right, just as it’s important to wear a warm coat to protect your body, a hat for your head, and gloves to protect your hands, you may want to start keeping your nose warm under a scarf.
By examining the immune response in different temperatures, the researchers were able to discover that a colder nose increases the likelihood of developing a cold. Their findings were based on the activity of airway cells within mice. The rhinovirus – the cold virus – was examined in noses of mice at both body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius and again at a cooler temperature of 33 degrees Celsius.
What the researchers concluded was that at cooler temperatures, the cells within the nose can replicate a cold and therefore increase the development of one actually occurring. When your nose is cold, your immune system is far less effective, and you’re much more likely to get sick.
To add to the risk, researchers say that at any given time, around 20 percent of us carry the rhinovirus in our noses.
Previous research has also suggested that a cooler body can catch an illness more easily. Harvard studies have shown that when our bodies are warm, they are equipped to adjust to the environment around us.
When the temperature drops, our immune response becomes lacking – the cold makes blood vessels within our skin contract, so our blood doesn’t flow as readily to our extremities, like fingers and toes, which become prone to frost bite.
Harvard also notes that the flu virus, in particular, can linger much longer in colder temperatures. Likewise, the rhinovirus can thrive when it’s colder, so the chances of you catching it increase.
If you thought the notion of “being cold will catch you a cold” was just an old wives’ tale, you’ll have to reconsider. In the 1970s, researchers had debunked the theory, but modern studies have linked the two, as they continue to examine the nose as a gateway for illness.
When it comes to avoiding a cold this winter, the simplest method is to make sure your nose is staying warm. When you head outside, for example, use a scarf to wrap around not only your neck, but your nose as well.
Some other great tricks are to keep your entire body nice and warm, so dress for the weather!
Sipping tea can help heat the nose and the body – breathing in the steam from a cup of tea stimulates the hair follicles in the nose, which prompts the removal of germs. Adding honey to your tea gives you an added a boost of antibacterial power.
Alternative cold-fighters are ensuring you’re getting enough protein in your daily diet. Research has shown that people low in protein have weaker immune responses.
Along with stocking up on vitamin C, and making sure your work and living spaces are sanitized, staying warm is a great method to make it through a healthy, cold-free winter.
By following these helpful tips, you can get through winter without contracting a nasty cold, continue to feel your best and enjoy all that winter has to offer. Get out there and enjoy it; after all, before you know it winter will be behind us.
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