Debunking those age-old cold weather medical myths - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Debunking those age-old cold weather medical myths

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Whether it's because of the change in seasons or you, running to the grocery store with wet hair, something's getting you down this fall/ winter—and every other fall/ winter before this one.

So what's the real reason for the seasonal sickness that's "going around?"

According to doctors at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, it's your dry nose, hidden allergies and poor immune system.

The story behind the ‘no wet hair in the cold' myth

Louis Pasteur was a French chemist and microbiologist who lived in the 1800's, well known for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination.

He conducted a famous experiment involving anthrax and chickens.

He injected two groups of chickens with anthrax.

With one group, he stuck the chickens' feet into icy water afterwards. As it turns out, they died much faster than the group of chickens that were wrapped up in warm blankets after getting the anthrax.

So, the thinking was that, mothers, in particular (according to a family physician) started associating illness with going outside in the cold when hair is wet or when the body is damp from something.

However, the wetness isn't how upper respiratory infections actually happen in the cold weather.

There is less humidity in the air in cold weather, causing nasal passages get dry. Viruses prefer a dry environment to live.

Infections are also based on your immune system status.

So, if you're not eating healthy or exercising, if you're under a tremendous amount of stress and you're not sleeping well, in general your body won't be able to fight off that virus.

Furthermore, the Rhinovirus which causes a cold (there are more than 200 different types of this virus) can exist for long periods of time on inanimate objects. So, when you touch door handles, computer keyboards and doorknobs after a sick person has touched them, you then touch your eyes or get your hands close to your face, you're essentially inoculating yourself with that virus.

The story behind the 'seasons change is making me sick' myth:

Typically, as people go into fall and winter, they start to feel sick but just think of it as the change in weather causing the sickness.

However, the actual reason behind it is the humidity change in your nasal passages.

In the winter, it tends to be dryer and that is a great environment for the viruses to get in your nose and cause an infection.

So, the weather being up and down, alone, doesn't make you sick.

"Often a lot of times people don't recognize they have allergies and because of the weather changes and the pollen changes, they just attribute the allergies to getting a cold, when in actuality  it's allergies that are uncontrolled and they continually get them every season at the same time," said NHRMC Family Physician, Cecile Robes.

To hear more details about medical myths involving "turkey tiredness on Thanksgiving," "eating for two when I'm pregnant," and "This is a heart attack?," check out the video links attached to this story.

On mobile? Look for those video clips in the "top video" section of the free WECT News App.

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