611 W. Union Street
Benson, AZ 85602
(520) 586-0800

member support line
M-F 5pm-8pm
24/7 weekends/holidays

AzCH Nurse Assist Line


611 W. Union Street
Benson, AZ 85602
(520) 586-0800

AzCH Nurse Assist Line


powered by centersite dot net
Wellness and Personal Development
Basic InformationLatest News
Extra 10 Minutes of Daily Activity Could Save 110,000 U.S. Lives AnnuallyWinter Blues? It Could Be SADOrdering Groceries Online? Good Luck Finding Nutrition InfoBinge-Watching Could Raise Your Blood Clot RiskDon't Snow Shovel Your Way to a Heart AttackCelebrities' Social Media Promotes Junk Food, Often for FreeWill Reading Books Make You Any Happier?Zoom Meeting Anxiety Doesn't Strike EveryoneDid Adding Calorie Counts to Restaurant Menus Make Meals Healthier?AHA News: Here's to a Fresh Start With Whatever You Do in '22Do You Have 'COVID-somnia'? These Sleep Tips Might HelpMake 2022 Your Year for a Free Memory ScreeningNew Year's Resolution? Here's How to Make it Stick12 Steps to the Best Holiday Gift: HealthAmericans Turning to Trendy Diets to Shed Pandemic PoundsAHA News: Can the Cold Really Make You Sick?Unsung Heroes of the Pandemic: DogsHolidays Are Peak Time for Heart Attack: Protect YourselfAHA News: The Pandemic Made It Hard to Stay Connected. Here's How to Reestablish Healthy Relationships.Omicron Latest Mental Blow to Americans Exhausted by PandemicA Routine Skin Check Could Save Your LifeGive Others Help, Get Back Health Benefits: StudySocial Media Tied to Higher Risk of DepressionAHA News: Getting Better Overall Sleep Might Be the Key to Better HealthAHA News: Intermittent Fasting May Protect the Heart by Controlling InflammationProtecting Your Skin From Sun Won't Weaken Your Bones: StudyAHA News: Is 10,000 Steps Really a Magic Number for Health?Too Much Sitting May Be Bad for Your Mental HealthThere May Be a 'Best Bedtime' for Your HeartIt's Time to Replace Your Smoke Alarm BatteriesAfter Clocks 'Fall Back' This Weekend, Watch Out for Seasonal Mood ChangesNo 'Fall Back'? Sleep Experts Argue Against Daylight Standard TimeAHA News: How Doctors Can Help Their Patients Make Heart-Healthy Lifestyle ChangesAHA News: 'Balance' Is the Key Word in New Dietary Guidance for Heart HealthFitter in 1820: Today's Americans Spend Much Less Time Being ActivePandemic Uncertainty Keeping Americans in Limbo: PollAHA News: Your Next Doctor's Prescription Might Be to Spend Time in NatureAHA News: Carrying a Tune Could Lead to Better HealthAmericans Are Eating More Ultra-Processed FoodsFDA Reduces Recommended Salt Levels in Americans' FoodMen, Women Behaved Differently During Pandemic LockdownsIntense Workouts Right Before Bed Could Cost You SleepAHA News: How You Feel About Your Place on the Social Ladder Can Affect Your HealthHow to Sleep Better During the PandemicDealing With Grief in the Time of COVIDWould More Free Time Really Make You Happier?All Those Steps Every Day Could Lead to Longer LifeGot 'Zoom Fatigue'? Taking Breaks From the Camera Can HelpTrying Out a New Skin Care Product? Test It FirstDon't Forget to Apply Sunscreen Before & After Water Fun
LinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Anger Management
Stress Reduction and Management

AHA News: Can the Cold Really Make You Sick?

HealthDay News
by American Heart Association News
Updated: Dec 17th 2021

new article illustration

FRIDAY, Dec. 17, 2021 (American Heart Association News) -- Zip up your coat or you'll catch a cold!

Most people have probably heard some variation of that parental plea while growing up, or even directed such advice to their own children. It's a sensible request, though when it comes to avoiding illness when temperatures dip, it's not quite so simple.

"It's multifactorial. Just given cold weather alone doesn't make you sick," said Dr. Virginia Banks of Northeast Ohio Infectious Disease Associates in Youngstown. "There are just a lot of variables."

For one, viruses may survive and reproduce more easily in the cold, dry air of winter. Plus, cold weather keeps people indoors, and viruses can spread more easily in close quarters. And although laboratory research suggests cold temperatures can make immune cells less effective, Banks said in the end, viruses – not the cold weather – are what make you sick.

While many different respiratory viruses cause the common cold, rhinoviruses are the most common trigger for those runny noses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rhinoviruses also can cause asthma attacks and have been linked to sinus and ear infections.

Most versions of rhinoviruses replicate more robustly in nasal passages, where the temperature is usually about 91 to 95 degrees, lower than the core body temperature of 98.6. "Viruses tend to enter the body through your nasal passages, and the temperature being lower lends itself to them replicating," Banks said.

Influenza viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 also can enter the body through the nose.

Banks is eager to see how active this winter's flu season will be after the CDC said activity for the 2020-21 season was "unusually low." Likely explanations included the introduction of pandemic mitigation measures.

To avoid getting sick this winter, Banks said those measures – wearing masks, especially indoors; social distancing; staying home; and hand-washing – provide an important layer of protection. And she urged people to get their flu and COVID vaccines. Other tips to keep the immune system strong include exercising, eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep.

She also implored people to schedule checkups with their doctor if they have avoided visits during the pandemic. That's because viruses aren't the only health issue people should be thinking about this winter.

Some research shows an association between colder air temperatures and adverse impacts on cardiovascular health. For instance, a 2018 study in Sweden published in JAMA Cardiology found more heart attacks happened on days with low air temperatures, low air pressure, higher winds and shorter duration of sunlight.

A 2016 study in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases found lower average air temperatures and bigger 24-hour temperature swings were associated with hospitalizations for stroke. The authors cited a need for more research to determine why.

Theresa Beckie, a professor in the College of Nursing and College of Medicine Cardiology at the University of South Florida in Tampa, urged those diagnosed with heart disease to be particularly cautious in the cold.

"A really good example is that there have been several studies of sedentary individuals shoveling snow after a heavy snowfall," Beckie said. "These weekend warriors, if they have ischemic heart disease, have a risk of precipitating a heart attack."

Sudden exertion stimulates adrenaline and a stress response in your body that may increase heart rate, Beckie said. "So yes, there is a risk, but it's not so much due to the cold but the sudden physical activity of holding your breath, shoveling snow and creating sudden stress on the heart."

It's still important to stay active in the winter, though Beckie said people should be mindful of their physical fitness before jumping straight into too strenuous of an activity. For instance, someone who is not as active should take breaks while clearing a foot of snow from their driveway – or to pay a service to do it.

"Acclimation is everything," Beckie said. "Just take things slowly."

American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Not all views expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.

By Genaro C. Armas