Cooler temperatures impair the immune system, enhancing the seasonal spread of cold virus

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Yale School of Medicine researchers investigated the association between colds and cold-weather seasons. Their results can help oncology nurses advise their patients on avoiding these illnesses in colder temperatures.

Scientists have known that the rhinovirus replicates most effectively in the nose for more than 50 years. The question is why. This study revealed that the rhinovirus, the most frequent cause of the common cold, reproduces more efficiently in colder weather.

In addition, lower temperatures reduce the immune system, making our bodies less adept at stopping the virus. The nose is the most vulnerable spot because it is 8° to 9° cooler than the rest of the body and breathing further exposes it to frigid winter air.

The researchers examined airway cells taken from mice and kept at 98.6° or 91.4°, the average temperature in our nostrils.

Both the enzymes that detect viruses and the signals that connect those sensors to the immune system worked more effectively in the warmer temperature. The researchers suspect that other viruses may take advantage of the general suppression of the immune system that occurs in cooler temperatures as well.

Wearing a scarf, which can create a pocket of warm air around the nose while outside, may be an effective measure patients can take to avoid the common cold.

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Yale researchers investigated the association between colds and cold-weather seasons.
The rhinovirus, the virus that causes the common cold, replicates most efficiently in the nose, where temperatures are cooler than the rest of the body. Listen to your mother and wear that sweater - or better yet, a scarf.
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