Healthy Herd | Spring Doesn’t Equal Warmth

I’m in denial just as much as the next person about the arrival of spring — the calendar says it is spring; therefore, it is warm outside. Most of us, being Midwesterners, are acclimated to the cold weather and any day over 30 feels like a heat wave.

But I see some people on campus wearing outfits on cold days that would likely make their mothers cringe.

I understand, some days you are expecting it to get warmer than it turns out to be, so you don’t put on that extra layer.

But as for the rest of you wearing shorts when it is 30 degrees out and windy, what goes through your mind in the morning? The freedom of shorts or of a skirt is great. But the factor that makes it rewarding is the warm weather. Those articles of clothing (and the people wearing them) don’t have the same fun when it is cold outside.

However, as much as I’d like to scold you for your mother, I cannot. There is no scientific proof that bad or cold weather is what makes a person sick. It is just an old wives’ tale. What likely makes us sick is that when the weather is cold, we all flock inside.

When we do this continually and during long periods of time (like the winter) we are in closed rooms with other people breathing in recycled air and viruses.

With that being said, there is still research being done with the relationship of cold weather on the respiratory system. It is thought that exposure to cold, like when you go outside without warm enough clothing, the cold effects the body by increasing norepinephrine production. This is a natural decongestant, explaining why you sometimes get a runny nose after being outside on a cold day.

When your nose is running or becomes clogged enough that you then begin to breathe through your mouth, the natural filter for germs in your nose is not being utilized. Scientists also have reason to believe that the Rhinovirus that often causes the common cold thrives in a chilly environment. The cold naturally suppresses the immune system. Put all of these factors together and it leads to an unpleasant situation.

So although not wearing a jacket in cold weather doesn’t directly affect our health, it can still be a trigger for it. When you’re going to walk to class, before you leave the house first check the weather and ask yourself — is what I’m wearing appropriate for the temperature outside? If so, stroll along your merry way. If not, turn around and use your common sense.

Even if the cold never bothered you anyway.

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