Air Conditioning Colds Just Another Myth

Air conditioning doesnt cause summer colds.

Can air conditioning cause colds? Where else would summer colds come from? Of course, even if it were true, nobody would give up the respite that air conditioning provides from the heat, but it is some relief to know that your co-workers are far more threatening to your health than your air conditioning unit.

It's a general misperception that being cold somehow throws your immune system out of whack. After all, it's cold in the winter and that's when most people catch colds. Alas, as they might say in the Vatican: post hoc ergo propter hoc. That is: correlation is not causation.

Most people do catch cold in the winter, and it is cold in the winter, and there is some connection between the two. Because it's cold, people stay inside more. And that puts them in close proximity to other people, also known as cold germ carriers. The more you are around people, the more likely you are to get infected with a cold virus. So all those winter parties and gatherings where everybody crowds in is a cold germ's playground.

There are some good reasons why summer colds happen. For starters, more people fly long distances in the summer, and being around 400 other people is an excellent way to make sure you're exposed to a lot of different infections. And the longer you are in that metal tube with those people, the more likely you are to be exposed to a virus that you have no resistance to.

How stressful! There's another thing that can lead to colds: stress. By depressing the immune system's response, stress can let the cold virus' get a foothold and begin to reproduce. Before you can say "Pass the Nyquil," the virus is rampaging through your body having a grand old time. There is one way the air conditioning might contribute (in a small way) to catching colds: dehydration. Air conditioning involves removing the moisture from the air and then cooling it--which is why there's always a puddle of water under an air conditioner. Air with little moisture in it wants to suck up any moisture it can find, and so it can dry out your nasal passages, also known as the first line of defense against viruses. Instead of getting stuck in the snot, the viruses slip on by and get into your body where they can launch their invasion. Still, the best way to avoid colds is to wash your hands regularly--especially after contact with someone else, and try to avoid crowded areas.
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