Does cold weather make you sick?

We all seem to get sick over the colder months, but is it the cold that makes us sick?

Winter has arrived and along with the cold weather comes the dreaded cold and flu season. Winter brings with it many concerns about the health of one’s family and employees, but is it really the cold weather that makes you sick? Or is this just another fairytale we have all lead to believe is true?

Prevention is better than cure, right?

As winter arrives each year, so does the list of ‘rules’ we need to follow to stay healthy:

1.  Wrap up when going outside, the cold will make you sick

2.  Don’t go to bed with wet hair it will make you sick

3.  Don’t bath before going out in the evening.

Will we actually get sick if we go out in the cold?  Or is there something else behind the increase in colds that seem to arrive as soon as the temperature drops?

Will the cold weather make you sick?

Put a jumper on, it is cold! Is this common phrase yelled by parents every winter preventing kids from getting sick?  According to Professor William Rawlinson, a senior medical virologist at NSW Health Pathology “you get a cold because you get a cold virus, so it doesn't matter how cold you are."  So, rugging up may keep you warm, but won’t stop you from catching a cold.

Why are colds more common in the winter?

The cold virus is spread through contact with an infected person, either by touching a contaminated service or by inhaling the airborne virus as someone coughs or sneezes. During the colder months, people tend to spend more time indoors and because of this, they are in closer contact with people, which in turn leads to the spread of the cold virus happening more easily. In reality, it is our desire to stay out of the cold that encourages the spread of the cold virus and not the cold weather itself.

How do you minimise the risk of infection at work?

There are a number of things you can do around the office to help stop the cold virus from spreading, here are just a few:

1.  Wash your hands regularly with soap and water and then dry them thoroughly.  Remember, drying your hands is just as important as washing them.

2.  Encourage your colleagues to stay home if they are sick.  While they may not want to let anyone down by being out of the office, a sick colleague can do more damage by coming into the office and spreading the virus around than missing a meeting or deadline.

3.  Keep the office clean and ensure that surfaces are wiped down regularly to stop the spread of germs.

So while rugging up in the colder months may stop you from feeling the cold, it won’t stop you from catching one.  For more tips on how to stay healthy in winter click here.

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12th June 2018
Tania Dalton, Research & Innovation, Initial Hygiene
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