Your Mom Was Wrong…Mostly.

“Bundle up,” mom warned on a chilly day. Can we finally disabuse this silly myth? Cold weather does not make you sick. Except that it kind of does.

The weather itself does not cause sickness, but there is a correlation between colder weather and increased illness because of the conditions the colder weather creates. Get it? When it’s colder, we gather indoors close together with increased humidity, and it’s this humid proximity that allows viruses and bacteria to spread more easily. Furthermore, viruses love the cold! They live longer and replicate faster in colder weather.

But your mom is still wrong. Throw a healthy person – like your mom – in a cold, sterile environment without a jacket and scarf, drop the temperature 20 degrees, and then watch…nothing happens. There is no chance she will get sick unless the placebo effect kicks in and she thinks she’s sick.

But maybe your mom’s advice is still valid: dress warmly. Dress so warmly in fact that you can stay outdoors during cold weather. Avoiding indoor crowds is your safest bet to staying healthy.

Dr. H.