Monday, January 12, 2015


Cold Virus
When you were a kid, did your grandmother or mother tell you not to go outside without your coat or you would catch a cold? (Or just not a cold, "a death of a cold.") That was the wisdom at the time. Then, scientists let us know that you couldn't catch a cold from being cold, you caught a cold from a virus. I heard a report on NPR's Science Friday last week that shed new light on this whole issue.

For a while now they have known that the cold virus replicates better at the lower temperature in your nose (33 C) compared to the higher temperature in your lungs (35 C). That's why a cold virus is more likely to settle in your head than your lungs, and may be one reason why we get more colds in the winter. However, now they have done a study that shows when your nose is colder, you don't have as many immune cells in your nose respond to the cold virus. Therefore, the virus is more likely to grow and develop into a cold. (By the way, did you know that one in five people is carrying around a cold virus in their nose that is just waiting to multiply?) So there are at least two factors that suggest when you are colder, you are more likely to get a cold.

While I found the study interesting, what I found the most interesting was the fact that maybe grandma had it right. Being cold may make you more likely to get a cold. She may have not had the carefully controlled lab studies to back her up, but she knew what she knew.

Everything old is new again.

A couple more things:

--The latest findings about the suppressed immune response of the nose came from studies done in rats and human nose cells grown in the lab. More work is needed.

--I have given only a very condensed and most general idea of these studies. To learn better what they're all about, here are some links: