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Does Cold Weather Bring on Colds? Doc says No

It's hard to go a whole day this time of year without hearing someone cough or sneeze. Despite what mom says bundling up doesn't provide any protection from illness.

An area doctor says it's not the climate, but the amount of time people spend indoors and together that can be blamed.

Dr. John Lambert from UW Family Health in Wausau says, “They've done studies of people in Antarctica [and] people there do not get an increase in frequency of upper respiratory tract infections.”

Simply stepping outside in cold weather without a jacket won’t cause a cold, but hypothermia can suppress the immune system which can lead to colds. Breathing in cold, dry air can constrict in the nasal passages and dry out making the nose a more susceptible place for viruses to invade.

When it comes to dealing with a cold we all have our own ways of treating it. Last week, members of the Body Benders exercise group in Wausau shared their advice. Betty Zastrow said she thought drinking orange juice was a good way to prevent the common cold. Drinking a little wine everyday is what keeps Willy Baumann healthy. Thomas Karlan said that every morning his grandfather would take a shot of brandy to keep strong.

Dr. Lambert says while orange juice consumed regularly can help build up immunity, Zinc really is the only thing that is proven to decrease incident, frequency and duration of cold symptoms. But be careful, he went on to say that some people have lost the ability to smell from over use. Frequent exercise can also lower the duration of cold. In fact, one study showed moderate physical activity reduced the risk for an upper respiratory tract infection by 23 percent.

And if you’re dealing with a runny nose, the Doc suggests nasal saline sprays to offer relief. But the best tips are ones you’re hopefully already doing; staying hydrated and frequently washing your hands.


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