Do Cold Viruses Replicate Better At Cooler Temperatures?

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Have you ever heard someone tell you to make sure that you bundle up in cold weather so that you don’t catch a cold? It’s a common phrase that just about everyone has heard at some point in their lives, and may have repeated to someone without thinking very much about it.

If it turns out that you or someone you care for has ever come down with a cold shortly after being caught outside without wearing enough layers for the weather, then our minds tend to put together the two events and explain the onset of the illness with the lack of appropriate winter clothing. We aren’t likely to stop to ask ourselves, “How does the common cold spread?”

How Cold Viruses Spread Better In Cooler Temperatures

Cold Viruses Replicate Better At Cooler Temperatures - Compounding USAThe results of a new study led by researchers at Yale University seem to confirm there may be some logic to the idea that people may be more likely to catch a cold when the weather is cooler. It found that the common cold virus is able to reproduce more efficiently in cooler temperatures, which are found inside the nose, as opposed to the warmer core body temperature.

Researchers have known for some time that the most common cause of a cold, the rhinovirus, is able to multiply more readily in the nasal cavity, as opposed to the lungs. They also knew that the nasal cavity was slightly cooler than the lungs. Previous studies tended to focus on the effect body temperature had on the virus, as opposed to the immune system.

The Yale-led study looked at the relationship between temperature and immune response. Researchers examined cells retrieved from the airways of mice and compared the immune response of the rhinovirus when cells were incubated at 37 degrees Celsius (the core body temperature) and then at 33 degrees Celsius. They found that the immune response was impaired at the lower body temperature compared to the core body temperature.

Immune Deficiencies Play A Role

The study also discovered that in mice with immune deficiencies, the virus was able to replicate at higher temperatures. This proves that the immune system also contributes to whether the virus is able to multiply.

Even though the research was conducted on mouse cells, we can take away some clues that can benefit humans. We know that approximately 20 percent of people have rhinovirus in their noses at any particular time. The lower the temperature, the lower the immune response to viruses will be. Keeping warm, and especially keeping the nose covered, may help to stop the spread of cold viruses.

When you are not feeling well, ask your doctor about a compounding prescription. We can compound your medication to fit your individual needs!

About Matt Poteet, Pharm.D.

Chief Operating Officer, The Compounding Pharmacy of America Matthew Poteet, Pharm.D. graduated with Honors from Lee University with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Science. After his undergraduate training, he completed the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy, graduating in 2004. Dr. Poteet has spent much of his pharmacy career on staff at two of the most prestigious academic teaching hospitals in the Southeast; Emory University in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. At these institutions he received extensive experience and training in sterile products compounding. He returned home to East Tennessee in 2010, where he has held the position of Pharmacy Director at two sterile products pharmacies in Knoxville. Matthew lives in Knoxville with his wife, Chris. Dr. Poteet is Tennessee’s first Board Certified Anti-Aging Pharmacist by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Read More About Matthew Poteet, PharmD