Ever wonder why we get colds when the temperature drops and winter rolls around? What’s the correlation between temperature and getting sick? Researchers and medical professionals have come up with many explanations for this phenomenon. Here are a few popular ones:
- People are inside more, increasing the probability that a sick person will pass his or her germs to others.
- The flu virus transmits faster in the cold.
- The immune system is more sluggish and doesn’t defend the body as it normally does in warmer weather.
- The air indoors is dry, which helps the germs survive longer.
One explanation people overlook relates to the explanation about dry air mentioned above. When the heaters turn on in your house and workplace, the air becomes very dry
. As we breathe, the nasal passages and sinuses dry out, which hampers the body’s natural processes to rid itself of germs and other contaminants.
The Body's Natural Defense System
Here’s how it works. Inside the nose three things work together for a strong defense:
- Mucus – Catches bacteria and viruses so they cannot go farther into the body.
- Cilia – Microscopic hairs that sweep back and forth to move the mucus out of the body.
- Airway Surface Fluid – Dilutes the mucus, which is produced by the body in a concentrated form.
This defense breaks down when the airway surface liquid dries up, leaving the mucus thick and very difficult to move out of the body.