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Farmer
12-12-2000, 06:11 AM
I often hear older folks saying this, "don't go outside without a jacket or you'll get a cold." Now can cold temperatures give you a cold? If so, is it because the air is denser and there's more particles in the air, leaving me prone to more bacteria, virus and such? In my own opinion, I don't think it matters either way. You get a cold, you get a cold. No matter what the temperatures are.

zen101
12-12-2000, 06:24 AM
Not essentially accurate but cold weather can contribute to you getting the cold.

I used to argue about this with my ex all the time because I like it warm and a bit 'stuffy" during the winter and she likes to breathe cold air while sleeping.

Here is what happens, the reduced body temperature lowers the effectiveness of your bodies immune system and makes you more qualified as a host for most cold bugs.

There are a lot of things you can do to balance this out and if you are generally healthy and have a good respiratory system avoiding a cold is a lot more science than luck. If you smoke you should at least double your vitamin C intake and of course never share cigarettes or elevators with sick people. Avoid being around noticeably sick people as well at work. Mos adults who get sick either get it from their kids or from co-workers. When my daughter was in daycare I made sure they had a policy regading sick kids and keeping them home because I owned a small business and me being sick was the difference between profit and loss for my store.

ticker
12-12-2000, 06:36 AM
The primary cause of increased colds in colder weather is that people tend to stay inside more with poorer ventilation. Colds spread better between people in confined conditions.

Fredge
12-12-2000, 07:06 AM
Cecil discussed cold weather and colds here:

http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a4_104.html

kanicbird
12-12-2000, 08:55 AM
Here is what happens, the reduced body temperature lowers the effectiveness of your bodies immune system and makes you more qualified as a host for most cold bugs.

I think it's the opposite, the warmer temps that people set their thermostat to provides a more suitable enviroment for 'bugs' both in and out of the body.

I think you body will let you know what the temp should be. If it is cold out but you don't feel cold - your body is dealing with it fine and you should not be suppressing your immune system by being there w/o your jacket.

I would guess that kids who are forced to wear their coats when actively playing are depressing their immune systems, via this path:

1 kid starts playing in the cold - expending energy and heating up their body.
2 parents say put on you jacket - kid heats up
3 kid starts sweating.
4 when kid starts winding down, his is damp from sweat.
5 kid now gets (and feels) cold due to being damp.
6 kids immune system depresses
7 kid gets sick and parents blame it on the 10 minutes in the begining when the kid had no jacket
8 the cycle starts over again

But that's just what I think.

Guy Propski
12-12-2000, 08:57 AM
Short answer--No, with a but.

You get colds from a virus, just like any other disease. However, cold weather can cause conditions that make it more likely you'll catch the virus. For example, the cold can tire you out and lower your resistance. Also, cold weather makes people stay indoors more, which increases your chances of coming in contact with someone who's infected with cold viruses.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
12-12-2000, 09:23 AM
This question has come up a number of times, and there's always a chorus of "cold weather lowers resistance." Maybe so, but I have yet to see any credible documentation illustrating that.

Anyone???

I think the correlation is that cold weather causes cold-like symptoms, like sneezing, runny nose, etc.

handy
12-12-2000, 11:11 AM
" "cold weather lowers resistance."

I would guess the body has to use more energy to stay warm, thus less energy for the immune system.

Qadgop the Mercotan
12-12-2000, 11:46 AM
Originally posted by handy
" "cold weather lowers resistance."

I would guess the body has to use more energy to stay warm, thus less energy for the immune system.

I know of no research that supports this conjecture, and a fair amount of studies (poorly controlled, I admit) which either fail to support it or actually refute it.

Qadgop, MD

lissener
12-12-2000, 12:01 PM
I am not a doctor, but extrapolating from my experience with fish:

Changes in ambient temperature stresses the fishes' "metabolic system" (to coin a vague but self-explanatory phrase). Part of this system, of course, is the immune system, which is why fish in a tropical aquarium are often very likely to develop problems with a parasitic protozoan--colloquially known as ich, which is short for something longer than ich. Yes, that's right: a chill can cause fish to be susceptible to parasites.

Now, obviously, you can't directly compare the effects of temperature changes on fish and mammals: ecto- versus endo-, etc. There are differences in the mechanisms, but stress on the system is stress on the system: if you and your mammally system expends more energy on maintaining a constant body temperature at a time of the year when--and in a climate where--the ambient temperature fluctuates more widely than it does in, say, August or Ecuador, then strain on your system's--and its subsystems, like immune--equilibrium is inevitable.

Add the probably minor stress of temperature fluctuations to other sources of stress (an individual's diet or sleep or emotional stress, etc.), and your immune system may well be compromised enough to allow an opportunistic virus to gain a foothold.

In other words, cold doesn't cause you to get a cold--any more than it cause a fish to get ichy--but it can certainly be one of many contributing factors.

CurtC
12-12-2000, 12:57 PM
First, zen101 said:
If you smoke you should at least double your vitamin C intake...

There's no evidence that Vitamin C helps to prevent colds. There is some weak evidence that it may reduce their severity, but it's far from established fact.

One reason that cold weather could be associated with more colds and flu that I haven't seen described is that cold temperatures cause runny noses, and a population with runny noses makes it much easier for a virus to transfer to others.

mrblue92
12-12-2000, 01:24 PM
From Cecil's column:Still, most flu outbreaks peak in January or February. Why? Figure that out and you may be hearing from the Nobel committee. Cecil's mother's theory is that cold "lowers your resistance" to disease. Sounds plausible, but during major outbreaks the winter months typically bring an equally sharp upward spike in flu in all parts of the country. Sure, Chicago gets a little brisk in the winter. But L.A.?

Something besides the cold obviously is at work. Maybe it's that even in southern California during winter folks keep the windows closed and stay indoors more, giving them a chance to exchange more germs. If we want to get really creative we may note that if you want to catch the latest bug there's nothing like going to church, and the one time people are sure to go to church is Christmas. Hence (maybe) the January outbreaks. OK, I'm reaching. But nobody knows for sure. Reading this, I immediately came to the obvious (to me anyway) conclusion. When do people (in the US) get together most often, have parties & family reunions, and bring the kids? Right around Thankgiving, Christmas and New Year's, correct? Once the virus has been throughly mixed up among the population in December, people go back to their jobs and expose everyone they are going to expose in January, and it only makes sense the peak would come in late January or early February.

What do you guys think? (Not that I'm expecting to hear from the Nobel committee any time soon...)

zwaldd
12-12-2000, 03:03 PM
recent scientific studies have shown that air temperature has no effect on the body's resistance to colds. they tested subjects in extremely cold environments, hot environments, and in-between environments. they administered cold germs through the air, and by direct contact. the results of the experiment showed that the only thing that determined who got a cold and who didn't was who came into direct physical contact with cold germs by touch. airborn germs and temperature had no effect. people in warm climates were no less likely to catch cold than those in cold climates. sorry, i don't have a link. i think i read about it in newsweek or at abcnews.com.

mrblue92
12-12-2000, 04:56 PM
Coming back and reading my post again, I noticed something I left out. (Besides the 's' in Thanksgiving and the 'o' in thoroughly.) Increased holiday travel might play a factor as well. Air travel increases the number of individuals people become exposed to (who was the last person to touch that magazine or tray table?), and it spreads the variants of germs around the world more easily.

I'm still thinking the generally increased interaction among people during November and December is main cause of "cold & flu season", just that modern air travel might be one more thing that helps exacerbate the situation in America. One way to substantiate or disprove this little theory would be to examine other countries that have most of their holidays at different times of the year than their winter (if they even have one) and compare the incidence of infectious diseases spread by casual contact. Anybody care to do some statisical studies?

barbitu8
12-12-2000, 06:49 PM
I know personally that vitamin C has been a godsend when I feel a cold coming on. Linus Pauling advocated megadoses at the first hint of a cold: at least a couple of grams every couple hours. If you take too much, you'll get diarrhea, but then you just back off. (No pun intended.)

At first the establishment said that Pauling was full of shit. Slowly, but surely, their opinion has changed. Below is a cite that has more uptodate info. Berkeley U. Wellness Letter editors recommend taking 200 - 500 mg a day, and Consumers Report in a recent issue of their Health Letter recommends the same.

http://www.wellnessletter.com/supplements/dsSupVitaminC.html

handy
12-12-2000, 07:10 PM
"I know of no research that supports this conjecture, and a fair amount of studies (poorly
controlled, I admit) which either fail to support it or actually refute it."

Yeah, but the OP wanted us to take a stab at it......

You & I know that you can't get a cold virus unless said virus is also present already.

As I spend 10 to 15 hours a week in the ocean which is 52.5 deg you'd think that I would be the one to get a cold? Nope, haven't had one for about 18 months.

barbitu8
12-12-2000, 08:29 PM
Originally posted by handy
As I spend 10 to 15 hours a week in the ocean which is 52.5 deg you'd think that I would be the one to get a cold? Nope, haven't had one for about 18 months.

:eek: I'll get a cold just thinking about that. I bet, however, you wear a wetsuit.

handy
12-13-2000, 12:00 PM
Sure I wear a wetsuit.....its still pretty cold though. At least there are no cold viruses in the ocean.

Doctor Jackson
12-13-2000, 12:35 PM
There is a good article on the "common" cold in the current Readers's Digest (I know, I know...). The article centered on Jack Gwaltney, M.D., of the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center in Charlottesville. He has, through a lifetime of studying the 200 or so "common" cold virii, become known as "Dr. Common Cold".

He states that temperature has no effect on cold virus transmission. Further, he has run controlled studies which indicate that the vast majority of colds are transmitted by direct contact with the eyes or nose. Very few cases are transmitted via airborne particles. In other words - wash your hands often, don't touch your mouth or nose, and you will contact far less colds.

CC
12-13-2000, 08:30 PM
I wonder if it's real at all. Anyone have actual data? Maybe "cold and flu season" is a construction of the cold and flu medicine companies, and illness is sort of a self fulfilling prophecy. We think it's a cold, so it must be. Couldn't just be allergies, or a sniffle or a sneeze. Anyway, I've heard that it also could be that in the dryer winter air the nasal mucosa dry up and make it easier for viruses to get from outside us to inside.

Kyberneticist
12-13-2000, 10:05 PM
Originally posted by barbitu8
I know personally that vitamin C has been a godsend when I feel a cold coming on. Linus Pauling advocated megadoses at the first hint of a cold: at least a couple of grams every couple hours. If you take too much, you'll get diarrhea, but then you just back off. (No pun intended.)

At first the establishment said that Pauling was full of shit. Slowly, but surely, their opinion has changed. Below is a cite that has more uptodate info. Berkeley U. Wellness Letter editors recommend taking 200 - 500 mg a day, and Consumers Report in a recent issue of their Health Letter recommends the same.

http://www.wellnessletter.com/supplements/dsSupVitaminC.html

Your opinion of this? Link covers benefits, has this note.
Warns against doses far below the one you recommend above. Also warns about cutting off dosage too quickly.
http://www.bookman.com.au/vitamins/vitc.html


Toxic effects of excess intake

Vitamin C is safe in relatively large doses but excessive intakes may cause diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramping, excess urination and skin rashes. There is
the possibility of kidney stones in those with kidney disease. These effects may occur when doses above 1 g are taken regularly. Chewable vitamin C may
lead to tooth decay.

Large doses of vitamin C taken by pregnant women have caused "rebound scurvy" in newborn babies whose intake returns to normal. It may be advisable to
reduce vitamin C intake slowly after taking large amounts.

Results of a study reported in 1998 in Nature Medicine suggest that vitamin C may cause cell damage in doses above 500 mg. The researchers gave daily
doses of 500 mg of vitamin C to 30 healthy volunteers and then assessed two indicators of oxidative damage in DNA from their blood cells. One of these
indicators showed less oxidation in the volunteers, and the other indicator showed more oxidation than before they began taking the supplements. However,
this study directly contradicts other studies and focuses only on a single biological marker that is not necessarily known to be a good indicator of oxidative
stress.33

barbitu8
12-13-2000, 11:00 PM
Originally posted by Kyberneticist
http://www.wellnessletter.com/supplements/dsSupVitaminC.html

Your opinion of this? Link covers benefits, has this note.
Warns against doses far below the one you recommend above. Also warns about cutting off dosage too quickly.
http://www.bookman.com.au/vitamins/vitc.html


Toxic effects of excess intake

Vitamin C is safe in relatively large doses but excessive intakes may cause diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramping, excess urination and skin rashes. There is
the possibility of kidney stones in those with kidney disease. These effects may occur when doses above 1 g are taken regularly. Chewable vitamin C may
lead to tooth decay.

Large doses of vitamin C taken by pregnant women have caused "rebound scurvy" in newborn babies whose intake returns to normal. It may be advisable to
reduce vitamin C intake slowly after taking large amounts.

Results of a study reported in 1998 in Nature Medicine suggest that vitamin C may cause cell damage in doses above 500 mg. The researchers gave daily
doses of 500 mg of vitamin C to 30 healthy volunteers and then assessed two indicators of oxidative damage in DNA from their blood cells. One of these
indicators showed less oxidation in the volunteers, and the other indicator showed more oxidation than before they began taking the supplements. However,
this study directly contradicts other studies and focuses only on a single biological marker that is not necessarily known to be a good indicator of oxidative
stress.33

[/B][/QUOTE]

You note the frequent use of "may." I don't believe there is any proof that vitamin C causes kidney stones, altho it has oft been so accused. Kidneys stones consist of calcium and are precipitated by too much oxalatic acid, not ascorbic acid. Chewable may cause tooth decay. Then, again, it may not. Finally, there was equivocal evidence of oxidative damage to DNA. I think I read since that issue of the Wellness Letter came out that there were other factors involved and subsequent studies showed no such damage. I cannot give any cites. Sorry.

Incidentally, I take powdered vitamin C. I put 1/4 tsp in my orange juice every am, which is about half a gram or so (I believe). The only place I know that sells the powder is Bronson's Pharmaceuticals, by mail order. That place was recommended by Linus Pauling for the powder vitamin C in his first book. It is the cheapest way to buy it.

handy
12-14-2000, 11:39 AM
In my opinion, Zinc is far better than Vit C for this sort of thing.

As for Pauling, the guy spent a lot of time in Big Sur, California, known for its great pot.

barbitu8
12-14-2000, 12:48 PM
The early studies of zinc lozenges sublingually were quite favorable. I tried that. Didn't work for me. C does. More recent studies have put the zinc theory in doubt. The December issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter states: "A study in 1996 created a lot of excitement when cold symptoms disappeared a full 3 days earlier...However, studies have had mixed results, with some showing benefit and some not." Anyway, it doesn't do anything for me.

As for Linus Pauling, he won two Nobel prizes for his work on DNA. He was a biochemist. Incidentally, the person who isolated vitamin C, Zvent-Ghorgi, or some name like that, I don't remember the exact name, lived to almost 100 and he took 20 grams a day.

Kyberneticist
12-14-2000, 02:46 PM
I've heard zinc is good for guys with extremely active sex lives? :)

barbitu8
12-14-2000, 07:00 PM
I wouldn't know.

manhattan
12-14-2000, 07:37 PM
Cecil Adams on Zinc for Common Colds (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/980206.html).

barbitu8
12-14-2000, 08:44 PM
The Cecil Adams cite is almost 3 years old. In this field, a lot happens in that short time. Refer to the article in the Mayo newsletter above for subsequent studies on zinc, for a thumbnail synopsis. Also vitamin C has, contrary to what Cecil said in 1998, has once again raised its "ugly" head.

barbitu8
12-15-2000, 06:50 AM
The following is from a piece I wrote recently for the local running rag:

Although a zinc deficiency can weaken the immune system, studies have been inconsistent in showing that it could reduce severity of cold symptoms and increase immune responses. Six recent trials failed to find a clear benefit against the cold. Megadoses can interfere with iron and copper absorption, lower HDL cholesterol, impair blood cell formation, and depress the immune system. Side effects include nausea, mouth irritations, and mouth sores. (27) (28) Like lead, megadoses may slowly damage the kidneys and peripheral nerves (causing weakness, muscle wasting, impaired sensation, and possibly dementia). One of the first toxic effects to be detected is anemia and a low white blood cell count, both of which are adverse effects of zinc upon the bone marrow (Health Gazette, December 1999).

Most Americans, however, have a low-zinc diet and zinc is also lost through sweat. A deficiency can weaken the immune system, retard muscle growth, slow the healing process, cause white spots on nails, dull the sense of taste and smell, cause hair loss, and cause lethargy. Zinc may also help prevent or slow age-related macular degeneration. The National Eye Institute is undergoing a 7-year study to test this. (Remedy, Nov/Dec 1999.) Zinc is found in wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, brewer's yeast, osyters, eggs, seafood and lean meats.

Zinc is essential for normal sexual development during male adolescence and for producing healthy sperm. Only two good studies have been done for sexual function, and they were inconsistent. (Nutrition Action, July/August 2000).

JillGat
12-17-2000, 12:12 AM
Just for the record, people get more colds during winter months in the tropics too, where the temperature doesn't vary much season to season. So it's not because of cold air, people being cooped up together inside, or dry indoor air. I don't think anyone knows why this is so.

Major Feelgud
12-17-2000, 12:27 AM
To answer the OP, I know it's happened to me several times. I go outside for 10 minutes or so in cold weather without wearing a jacket. I feel cold but I continue to check my tires or whatever I'm doing. The next day I come down with a cold. Explain that. It's not due to being with other sick people etc.

barbitu8
12-17-2000, 12:12 PM
Yes Major Feelgud, I get the same thing. After being cold for a while, I get a cold (in spite of my vitamin C). If I don't turn the thermostat up high enough in the winter and feel a little cold around the house, even tho I don't contact anyone, I get a cold. So no one is going to convince me that it's not the cold weather. I don't know the mechanism, but I feel it's because of lowered resistance.

mrblue92
12-17-2000, 03:43 PM
...The next day I come down with a cold. Explain that.... So no one is going to convince me that it's not the cold weather. I'm not looking to debate either of you, but did you happen to read the last three paragraphs in Cecil's column (that Fredge posted) in regard to cold stress and psychological stress?

barbitu8
12-17-2000, 04:20 PM
Yes, I read it. The fact remains that if I stay warm enough, regardless how cold and dreary it is outside, I don't get a cold; but if I get cold for an extended time I am likely to get a cold.

mrblue92
12-17-2000, 10:23 PM
I think the point was that it might not be a virus-caused cold, but instead "cold stress" with similar symptoms. But I am not claiming to be an authority on the subject...