Healthy Hints

Image from Foshydog on Flickr.
Image from Foshydog on Flickr.

The cold truth

By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer

In the winter when I was a kid, my mother always used to holler after me as I dashed through the door, “Make sure to bundle up or you’ll get a cold!” Being the obedient child I was, more often than not I obliged her and set about turning myself into a mini-Michelin man by donning endless layers of garishly-coloured puffy jackets only a preteen can get away with wearing. Her reasoning seemed utterly flawless to me. The sickness was called a “cold” so it was perfectly logical that one would contract it by being cold.

Not so.

Despite the seemingly crystal-clear connection one can draw between the weather and the sickness, no direct correlation exists. That being said, the cold does create ideal circumstances in which viruses can thrive. When it’s chilly out, it’s quite dry, and there has been evidence that suggests viruses spread more easily through dry air. But the indoors are better, right? Wrong. The situation inside is just as bad, if not worse, due to heaters warming and drying out the air.

During warm periods of the year, people like to spend time outdoors enjoying nature, but during winter, they often prefer the cozy climes of the indoors; this decision further aids germs in their quest to make life miserable for innocent folk. The increased time spent in close proximity with other people and various germ-ridden surfaces is an unfortunate combination that allows for an increased spread of viruses.

While we’re shattering myths here, there’s no hard evidence to support the idea that we lose most of our body heat through our head. While your face is more sensitive than the rest of you, thus making it feel like it is colder, your temperature is decided by your entire ensemble, not just your hat/toque. The myth supposedly originated from a military study that pitted men in warm clothing, but no headgear, against arctic temperatures. In the shocker of the century, the results clearly indicated that most of their heat was lost through their heads.

Of course, don’t take any of this as a glowing endorsement to prance about in the elements wearing nothing but a banana hammock (for many reasons). Just keep it in mind next time you’re having it out with your folks.