Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Cold and Flu

Catching Colds and Flu

12/18/2008

Question:

I wasn`t sure which catergory this would come under, but it involves catching a cold or the flu. I know that germs are the cause of getting these conditions and being outside in the cold whether without a jacket doesn`t cause someone to get them. But someone told me that if you are exposed to a cold environment and then warm one, back and forth, it can make someone sick with the cold or the flu, and does involve germs somehow. If that is true, can you please explain how that happens? Thanks

Answer:

A cold or flu is caused by a viral infection, and viruses tend to be very contagious.  They are spread primarily by droplets, or in other words, by saliva and mucus either sprayed into the air or by direct human contact.  Going repeatedly from a cold to a warm environment and back should not increase one's chances to become infected.  However, when the weather turns colder, people tend to begin spending more time indoors.  This creates closer human contact and thereby increases the likelihood of infection.  This is in large part why cold and flu season is during the colder months.

For more information:

Go to the Cold and Flu health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Allen M Seiden, MD Allen M Seiden, MD
Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Division of Rhinology and Sinus Disorders, Director of University Taste and Smell Center, Director of University Sinus and Allergy
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati