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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Health News

When Bubby told you to "put on a sweater or you'll catch a cold", she wasn't wrong. It turns out exposure to cold may have something to do with the common cold after all.
For years, doctors scoffed at folklore that bundling up could help in staving off the sniffles, but British researchers have come out with a new study showing that a drop in body temperature could lead to a cold.

Researchers at the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University in Wales recruited 180 students and asked half of them to soak their feet in a bucket of chilly water for 20 minutes. The other half kept on their socks and shoes and stuck their feet in an empty bucket.

Days later, a third of the students exposed to the icy water reported back that they had developed a cold, compared with 9% of the control group, according to the study, published in Oxford University's Journal of Family Practice.
Doctors posit that the people in the study who developed cold symptoms had a dormant cold infection that was showing little or no symptoms, and the exposure to cold caused the symptoms to take hold.

Still, some doctors are skeptical of the results of the study.
An assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital, Mary Jo DiMilia, said she had her doubts about the research.

"If it were so definitive, more people in the study that had their feet wet would have gotten sick," she said.

Dr. DiMilia also wondered about other contributing factors like stress, nutrition, and sleep deprivation. At the same time, she said she's going to have to think twice before telling patients that it's all right to go outside without first bundling up.

"It kind of makes you chuckle because we all try to tell our mothers that going out with wet hair has no bearing on whether you get sick," Dr. DiMilia said. "But I guess they might not have been wrong."
I've never been one to drive my kids crazy about dressing more warmly than they felt like the weather warranted, but I may have to rethink that policy.

5 Comments:

Blogger Ezzie said...

I never knew doctors said otherwise. Growing up in the Midwest, this was always obvious to us.

But don't force your kids to bundle up - make a deal: "Wear a warm hat, and you don't have to wear the big coat" et al. You can be as bundled up as you'd like, but if your head is uncovered you'll get cold and sick. Most body heat you lose, you lose from your head. In Cleveland and Milwaukee, we'd often just wear ski caps and Gator masks in the below-zero (F) cold for football - and be just fine.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

I loved this article and I'm thrilled that someone with authority has lashed out against the smugly self-delusional louts who insist the weather has no bearing on getting a cold. I get a cold every time the weather shifts, every year, for as many years as I can recall, and as recently as last week when it got cold/warm/cold/warm/cold/warm. I simply do not believe there is no connection.

10:34 AM  
Blogger dilbert said...

Great, more psuedo science making the rounds.

1. Very nicely done scientific research has shown that your immune system is not affect by your body temp. until it drops to the low 90's. Your body keeps its temp. in the high 90's even if you are out in the cold. So you have to really frost your butt to get your body cold enough to affect your immune system.

2. Look at the results of the study, then think about how many factors can affect the results and if they were controlled for. Do 9% of the population(the control group) get a cold every 3 days? Did someone in the wet feet group have a cold coming in and exposed everyone who was wetting feet with him?

It is certainly more comfy to keep warm and snug, and you dont have to quote dubious "scientific" research to tell your kids to keep warm.

5:48 PM  
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