Text by Dr. Nina Radcliff/Feature Photo by K. Cecchini
Myths, Tall-Tales, and (Un)truths
“Rain rain go away. Come again another day.” I have some important edits to this nursery rhyme. First, it may be necessary to substitute “snow snow,” “hail hail,” “sleet sleet,” and “cold cold” for rain. Second, I would like to make a special request that it does not come back tomorrow. Like most of the East Coast, I am feeling the crisp fall cold and am bracing for what is expected to be an exceptionally cold winter.
Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know: Busting Cold Weather Myths
Myth: Cold air makes you sick.
Cold weather does not cause you to “catch a cold;” but it makes it easier to spread germs. In fact, germs grow best when it is warm. However, when it is cold outside, we tend to stay indoors and remain in close contact. This makes it easier to transmit germs. Additionally, research has shown that viruses spread more easily through dry air. Not only is there less humidity outdoors, but central heating dries the indoors.
Myth: I should not exercise in the cold.
Do not store away your running shoes. Studies have shown that race times are actually faster and as a result you can burn more calories in less time. Additionally, exercising boosts your endorphins which can help fight off those winter blues. But before taking a jog make sure that you do a warm up first and you are properly dressed for the elements.
Myth and Truth: Allergies go away in the winter
If you suffer from indoor allergens, they may get worse. The cold weather makes it more likely that your pets will stay indoors, that you will shut those windows and not get fresh air, and that certain molds will thrive. However, if you suffer from pollen allergies, then your symptoms will improve.
Myth: I skip the sunscreen in the winter
Don’t let the freezing cold fool you! During the winter months, we are closer to the sun and are exposed to more harmful rays. Additionally, ice and snow are great at reflecting harmful ultraviolet rays. This means you get a double dose of exposure (from the sun and then again from the reflection off the ground). So don’t forget to apply that sunscreen.
Myth: Dry skin just an annoyance
When skin becomes dry, it can result in small cracks that serve as passageways for germs to enter the body. To avoid this, experts recommend moisturizing at least twice a day—after showering and before bedtime. Because our hands are more prone to drying and cracks, keep lotion in your bag or at your desk, in the car and next to the soap in the bathroom so you can moisturize throughout the day.
Myth: Eating chicken soup helps you fight off that cold.
Chicken soup may not only be good for your soul, but also your cold. Studies have shown that chicken soup stimulates your immune system, specifically, your white blood cells. Additionally, the warmth of the soup can help reduce sinus and throat pain.
Myth: Cold temps cause hair loss
Mother nature gave us hair to keep us warm. Thus, it makes sense that during the winter months, we hold onto our hair more tightly. Not convinced? Look at your pet dog Kujo to see how thick his fur gets in the winter. Studies have also shown that we have the greatest hair loss in the summer.
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Notice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.