It’s been bitterly cold across the country lately, including in my home state of Texas. We’ve survived “icemageddon.”
One theme I keep hearing from parents is that this cold weather causes colds. Not true! Viruses are the cause of most of the colds making both children and adults sniffle and cough. What is especially true in winter is that we all tend to spend more time indoors – and this is where the trouble starts.
Cold weather is not conducive to many outdoor activities – aside from favorites like ice skating, skiing and sledding. We spend much more time indoors, whether for work or play, gathered together in enclosed spaces (think shopping malls, movie theaters, homes, libraries, schools, clubhouses, etc.)
And when we head inside, germs are easily spread from person to person. The more time we spend indoors, the easier it is to catch a cold.
Children are great at spreading germs, though not purposely. While they’re learning to share at preschool, this includes sharing their viruses. Younger children are just learning to cover their mouths when they cough, and they touch their noses and faces all day long. They also put toys and other objects in their mouths, then set them down for friends to play with.
It’s not unusual for children between the ages of 1 and 3 years old to get five to six colds during the winter months.
Just being outdoors, even in the coldest weather, will not cause a cold. Just bundle everyone up appropriately and do try to get some fresh air. Also, remember the rules of cough hygiene and be sure to get a flu vaccine. Viruses do like cold, dry weather, but they love us being cooped up in the house even more!
Dr. Sue Hubbard is a pediatrician, medical editor and media host. Submit questions at www.kidsdr.com.