Winter brings more than just shorter days and colder temperatures—it also makes you more likely to catch a cold. The common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by rhinoviruses and other types of respiratory viruses. You experience numerous unpleasant symptoms and generally feel rundown as your immune system fights off the infection. Here’s why colds are more common in the winter and some ideas to help you stay healthy until the weather warms up.
Why the Winter Season is Cold Season
The common cold is a leading cause of missed school and work. The average adult gets two to three colds per year, while children have even more. Most cases occur in the winter and spring.
Do you catch a cold from cold weather? Well, not exactly. If you have ever wondered why you tend to get sick more often in the winter, here are some factors to consider:
- Germs can spread more easily in close quarters: People spend more time inside when it’s cold out. With the windows and doors shut tight, germs tend to linger in the air and settle on surfaces, increasing your risk of infection.
- Cold weather can wear down your immune system: Winter provides less sun exposure. This lowers your vitamin D level, an important aspect of a strong immune system. Heated indoor air also dries out your nasal cavities, making it easier for viruses to get into your system.
- Viruses thrive in cold, dry conditions: Lower temperatures make a virus’s lipid coating tougher, so it’s more active and resilient. Cold air also contains less water vapor, creating fewer obstacles for viruses to get past as they float through the air.
Most people have a cold for no longer than seven to 10 days. The most common symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Body aches
How to Avoid Catching a Cold
Viruses that cause colds tend to spread through the air and via close personal contact. You can get sick from breathing the respiratory droplets of an infected person or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
Follow these tips to reduce your risk of catching a cold this winter season:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Refrain from hugging, kissing, or shaking hands with people who are sick.
Treatment for the Common Cold in Texas
If your cold symptoms are severe or last longer than two weeks, seek medical treatment at Exceptional Emergency Center. We are a freestanding emergency room with locations in Amarillo, Beaumont, Brownsville, Ft. Worth, Harlingen, Livingston, Lubbock, Port Arthur, Saches/Garland, Orange, and Tyler, TX. After setting your appointment, remember to check in online to minimize your wait time upon arrival.
If you have questions or concerns about your cold symptoms, or you want to inquire about our ER services, please contact us online.