Does cold really cause colds?

Respiratory viruses survive better in chilly environments, which would also tend to irritate our nasal mucous membranes and therefore make them more sensitive to attacks. Zsolt Biczó/Adobe Stock

DECRYPTION – One of the first lines of defense at work in our nose would be weakened when subjected to the frosts of winter.

For a long time, the science was clear: you don’t catch a cold or the flu by taking a cold! The only thing that matters, we were told, is whether or not you have been exposed to a pathogen, and the resurgence of respiratory infectious diseases in winter comes from the fact that we spend more time crammed indoors. Then science moderated its remarks, showing that respiratory viruses survive better in chilly environments, which would also tend to irritate our nasal mucous membranes and therefore make them more sensitive to aggression. As for our immune system, we do not know if the cold really alters its effectiveness, or how.

At least until the work of researchers from the universities of Boston and Cairo. They offer in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology a mechanism that can explain this lower resistance to viruses in our body subjected to cold. When our nose shivers, the cells of its mucosa are less able to release…

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