A cold is a called a cold because of the cold. No, this isn’t a Dr. Seuss story. This is science.
When we breathe cold air into our nasal cavity, it lowers the temperature in the nose and provides a better environment for the cold virus to thrive and replicate, new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests.
Yale researchers brought together a bunch of mouse cells, got them sick and cold, then waited. The scientists found that the mouse-adapted virus replicated far more and better in cooler temperatures (nose) than at body temperature (lungs) because antiviral defenses are less efficient in colder environments.
“Many of us have the cold virus in our noses without symptoms—about 20 to 25 percent of healthy people carry the virus—and if you are one of those people and you go out in the cold, you might develop symptoms,” says study co-author Akiko Iwasaki, a professor in the department of immunobiology at the Yale School of Medicine, the Today reported.
What does this mean for you? Wrapping a scarf snuggly around your nose can help prevent cold symptoms, but be wary of that snot-nosed passersby; he can still infect you if you come in contact.
This also means mothers everywhere have been right for years. Let their boastful I-told-you-so slide—just not about going out with wet hair, though. The virus doesn’t enter out bodies through our heads, Iwasaki says, so trump her with that tidbit and call it even.