It turns out that by keeping warm we can prevent a cold, a recent research held by Yale University studied how the common cold virus survived under different temperatures. Finding that in colder temperatures it was more likely to survive.

Everyone has experienced a running nose and an obnoxious cough from time to time, yet a complicated cold can lead to other serious illness such as pneumonia or asthma. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a year, 3,967 deaths are reported because of a common cold.

Common Cold
A recent study found that a common cold virus is most likely to survive in colder temperatures. Credit: Huffington Post

Recently, a team of researchers from Yale University was dedicated to investigating how the human body acts when encountering a cold virus. Researchers looked into the Rhinovirus, the flu virus, to understand its behavior.

Rhinoviruses are the infectious agents to blame for the flu. It is the most common and predominant cause of a cold. The virus proliferates most commonly on temperatures between 33 and 35 Celsius degrees, which happens to be the temperatures of the human nose.

Akiko Iwasaki, the lead author of the investigation, examined with his colleague’s human airway cells. These are responsible for creating proteins in the immune system that protect the body from viruses. The proteins are known as interferons.

Testing the common cold

The team of researchers grabbed human airway cells and infected them with the rhinovirus in a laboratory. The cells were kept at a regular body temperature of 37 Celsius degrees, while others were kept under a body temperature of 33 Celsius degrees.

The incubated cells tried to create interferons, as they spot the cold virus near them. Both of the cells incubated at different temperatures tried and controlled the virus. Nonetheless, in cells incubated at 33 Celsius degrees the virus replicated in a fast way.

In those cells kept under normal body temperature, the cold virus died in a rapid way and didn’t have the chance to replicate or reproduce.

The team discovered that human airways weren’t able to make interferons under normal body temperatures, so the rhinovirus gained more strength and was able to reproduce the common cold.

“In this study, we found there are two additional mechanisms at play, all are more optional at 37 degrees and temperature has a profound effect on antiviral defences that affect the outcome of cold infections,” said Iwasaki in a press release.

Iwasaki’s team also discovered that on normal or warmer body temperatures the activity of a human enzyme called RNAse L, worked better on attacking and destroying viral genes.

The results of the study are coherent and complement Iwasaki’s other researchers about the common cold virus. The latest one was performed on mice and on their body temperature to fight the rhinovirus.

About the common cold 

Everyone has experienced a cold. This is a viral and infectious disease that commonly affects the respiratory track. Beginning from the nose and going down to the throat, making it sore, to the voice box.

After being exposed to the virus, it only takes two days to start showing some symptoms such as coughing, a runny nose, constant sneezing, fever, sore throat, feeling down, sleepy and with possible headaches.

If taken care of, a common cold can last up to a week tops, yet if the symptoms aren’t treated, and the patient exposes to harming environments, complications might appear such as pneumonia, complicated asthma, breathing diseases, etc.

The rhinovirus is commonly spread trough the air and people tend to transfer it trough sneezing or saliva. Yet, there are more possibilities of catching a cold if a patient is constantly exposed to certain cold triggers.

Having large amounts of psychological and physical stress can cause the body’s immune system not to perform as well when a cold virus is detected, as well as exposing to environments such as daycares or hospitals in which viruses are most common.

A common cold is treated with rest, warm meals, and with medicines such as ibuprofen, nose drops, and cough syrup.

The influenza virus, however, is similar to the common cold but stronger. Patients with influenza can experience similar symptoms of a cold or more severe ones such as high fever, muscle pains, headache, strong coughing, between others. Children can also experience vomiting or stomach problems.

If complicated, influenza can deliver viral pneumonia, bacterial pneumonia, sinus infections and heart failure. This virus can be prevented by taking “flu shots” every six months and leading a healthy and hygienic lifestyle.

Eating healthy, taking vitamins, washing hands after touching different surfaces and preventing exposure, can prevent the patient from getting the virus frequently.

Source: Yale University