Why is the Common Cold More Common in Winter?

When the temperature drops outside, cases of the common flu increase. It seems to happen every year. But is there a connection?

Aside from the myth about getting sick by going out in the cold without a coat, there really is a connection between the chilly weather and the increased sickness. Let’s take a close look at why this happens — and what you can do to reduce your risk.

Colds Thrive in the Cold

The cold temperatures and often dry air present the perfect conditions for the viruses that cause these colds and infections to thrive. There are a couple of reasons why.

First, the nose has its defense – mucus – that works to stop germs before they get in and cause illness. The problem, however, is that when the cold temperatures set in, the furnace is going, the air is dry — and so is the nose. Instantly a strong deterrent is wiped away, allowing viruses to enter as they wish.

What’s more, when it is cold outside, more time is spent with others inside. Even school recess is held inside the gym, taking away the fresh outdoor air. It is not the time indoors that leads to increased risk for colds, but lots of people gathered together indoors for greater lengths of time during the cold spells.

Protect Your Child From Colds

Colds are going to happen — and there is a good chance that your family will have to work their way through at least one bout of the cold or flu before the temperatures warm up. The good news is that there are ways you can protect your child from colds this winter.

Check out these tips for keeping your child healthy this winter.

Encourage hand washing. Ever since COVID-19 hit, handwashing has been something that is pushed over and over — and there is no reason to let up now. Encourage your child to wash their hands properly throughout the day, both at home and at school.

Get enough sleep. Adults may be able to get by on a few hours of sleep (whether or not they should), but kids need their sleep in order to keep their immune systems strong. How many hours they need will depend on their age. Talk to your pediatrician to see what is best for your little one.

Discourage sharing foods and beverages. It is normal for kids to drink or eat after anyone — especially if someone has something tasty. Unfortunately, this can spread germs fast. Teach your child not to share drinks with others or eat after anyone else.

Keep kids active. The more active kids are, the more their immune systems stay strong and healthy. They don’t have to be active all the time, but getting up and moving around – and getting outdoors – for some moderate exercise is key.

When Colds Strike

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your kids are going to get a cold. And, when that moment arrives, what will you do?

Rest, a humidifier to put moisture back in the air, salt water gargles for sore throats, and plenty of fluids are all ideal ways to nurse your child back to health. However, if the symptoms persist or worsen, contact your pediatrician.

Advocare Haddon Pediatric Group is a highly experienced team of pediatricians serving patients from birth through college. They have been an established leader in pediatrics for decades in the Haddon Heights and Mullica Hill areas of New Jersey.