Monday, February 15, 2010

"Put on a jacket, or you'll catch a cold!"

Growing up, I can remember trying to rush outside to the bus stop, only to hear my mom yelling at me to “put on a jacket before you catch a cold!” The worst was when you had a snow day from school and all’s you could think about was waking up and running outside to make a snowman, while the only think your mother had on her mind was taking ten minutes to bundle every inch of you up before you headed out.
After looking into it, I found that there was definitely a connection between cold weather and colds. This seemed pretty logical, considering that the older I got, the more I complained about being cold and the more I wanted to take the time to put on a coat before heading out of the house. I even began to take after my mother, telling my little brother, for instance, who likes to wear shorts and short-sleeved shirts on the coldest of days, to put on a jacket before going to a friend’s. The common cold, though, isn’t caused by the cold at all; rather, the rhinovirus is to blame. Since viruses aren’t alive, temperature has absolutely no effect on them.
So, what’s the connection? The answer may depend on who is asked, but a common explanation is that since cold weather usually keeps people in the warmth of their own homes, the increased contact between individuals could account for the spreading of the virus. It seems as though your mother should have forced you out into the cold if she didn’t want to risk catching a cold as well.

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