New studies confirm common cold myths

Go figure! The "Man Cold" and other common cold myths may be true after all!

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Photo: iStockphoto

That parental instinct you have to incessantly nag your kids to cover up in winter so they don’t catch a cold may have actually prevented them from catching a virus after all.

No, you aren’t just echoing an old wives tale you heard from your own mother—according to a new Yale study, it’s easier to catch a cold virus when you are actually physically cold. Researchers discovered that cooler temperatures actually hinder the abilities of the virus-fighting cells in the human nose. The study, published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), reveals that rhinovirus—the most prevalent virus that causes the common cold and asthma attacks—reproduces more efficiently when we’re inhaling cool air.

If moving closer to the Equator to avoid that brisk breeze is not an option for you, then you may want to invest in some extra scarves or balaclavas this winter. I, for one, hate breathing into a soggy scarf, so I’ll be at risk for the common cold virus over the next few months. However, I’ll certainly invest in some warmer face gear for my husband, so I don’t have to live through yet another “man cold” this year. Yes, he’s at home right now suffering from a sore throat and cough while I remind him to take his medication every four hours.

The requisite “man cold” jokes are currently flying around our house, and even my husband is taking part—albeit half-heartedly. I threatened to show him the satirical “Man Cold” video, but he declined to join the more than 4.7 million viewers who’ve already had a laugh at his expense. (“For God’s sake, woman. He’s a man! He has a man cold!”)

And what exactly is a “man cold”? Well, there’s the suggestion that men believe they suffer more horrendously than women when it comes to the common cold or flu.  However, a new study from Stanford University School of Medicine suggests the “man cold” myth may actually be fact. Due to high levels of testosterone, their immune response is weakened. The study, published in the PNAS, revealed that women generally have higher blood levels that signal to the body when it requires more protein for their immune system. So, it would appear that men actually are more susceptible to viral infections than women.

So there you have it, there’s more to these two common cold myths than we thought. Stay warm!

Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. She has many opinions, some of them are fit to print. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman.

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