Myth or fact: Can cold weather make you sick?

(Petr Kratochvil/Public Domain)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – People commonly say the cold weather is making them sick. Vols basketball player Robert Hubbs said it just this week. He wasn’t feeling well before Wednesday’s game against Ole Miss.

“I think it’s this weather. Knoxville weather is crazy. It’s like 75 one day and then it snows the next day, so I got to make sure my clothing attire is good,” he said.

Can cold weather make you sick, or is that just a myth?

“So the cold weather itself doesn’t cause the cold, as some people might have been told, but the cold weather does maybe contribute to conditions that make it more likely that you’ll catch a cold or flu,” said Dr. Mark Rasnake, head of infection control at UT Medical Center. “When it’s cold, we all huddle inside – close contact with others that are sick.”

To underscore, cold weather itself doesn’t make you sick, but certain germs do thrive in colder temperatures.

“Cold, dry air makes certain viruses like the flu virus survive longer in the environment than when it’s warm and humid. So it floats around in the air longer, more likely to get you sick,” said Dr. Rasnake.

Dr. Rasnake says he believes schools did the right thing by canceling classes this week to give everyone a chance to stay home and recover.

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