That’s not exactly true. As with many things, the reality is more complicated. Here’s the distinction: Being cold isn’t why you get a cold. But it is true that cold weather makes it easier to get the cold or flu. It is still too early to tell how weather impacts the Covid-19 virus, but scientists are starting to think it behaves differently than cold and flu viruses.
Virus transmission is easier when it’s cold
Instead, people spend more time indoors. That usually means more close contact with others, which leads to disease spread. Respiratory viruses generally spread within a 6-foot radius of an infected person. When you are indoors, it is very likely that you are closer together than 6 feet.
What you can do
While the bottom line is that being wet and cold doesn’t make you sick, there are strategies to help prevent illness all year long.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid touching your face, something people do between nine and 23 times an hour.
- Stay hydrated; eight glasses a day of water is a good goal, but that could be more or less depending on lifestyle and the size of the person.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Dark green, leafy vegetables are rich in immune system-supporting vitamins; eggs, fortified milk, salmon and tuna have vitamin D.
- Stay physically active, even during the winter.
- Clean the hard, high-touch surfaces in your home often.
- If your nose or throat gets dry in the winter, consider using a humidifier.
- Get the flu vaccine.
And one more important thing this year: When it’s your turn, make sure you get the Covid-19 vaccine.
Libby Richards is an associate professor of nursing at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Disclosure: Richards does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.