ua en ru

Cold does not cause ARVI: Doctor's explanation

Cold does not cause ARVI: Doctor's explanation Illustrative photo (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

From a young age, we've all been told to "dress warmly to avoid getting sick." Our parents and older generations have noticed that people tend to get sick more often during the cold season. In fact, it's true – winter sees a peak in diagnosed cases of acute respiratory viral infections (ARVI). But is it really the cold that makes people more susceptible to respiratory infections?

Infectious disease specialist Roman Ponomarenko provides details on what really causes ARVI.

The main myth

The doctor asserts that, firstly, cold weather is not the cause of illnesses such as the common cold, flu, or COVID-19. In these cases, it's either a virus or bacteria that is the primary factor behind the illness.

The higher incidence of acute respiratory infections in the cold season is due to the conditions created by the cold, which can facilitate the spread of certain infections.

Considering that the main transmission route is airborne droplets, one can get infected directly through contact with a sick person who coughs, sneezes, or even just talks. However, there's one interesting condition – the amount of virus must be sufficient for infection to occur, meaning the sick person must have acute symptoms.

Infection can also occur through handshakes and various objects, but this transmission route is less frequent, and handwashing or the use of hand sanitizer minimizes the risks.

"As we've seen with COVID-19: infections don't disappear in the summer. The most significant factor in high winter illness rates is societal behavior, specifically close contact in enclosed spaces," notes the medic.

Turning on heating and drying out the nasal mucosa make people more vulnerable to infection. However, the lack of even minimal ventilation because "it's cold and drafty" also contributes to getting sick.

Preventive measures against viruses include:

  • Wearing a mask to reduce virus spread when exhibiting ARVI symptoms.
  • Regularly ventilating indoor spaces.
  • Avoiding touching the nose and eyes.
  • Remembering to get vaccinated.
  • Washing hands regularly with soap.
  • Covering the mouth and nose when sneezing.