Primary Care

4 Winter Cold Myths

Don't be fooled by these common winter cold myths, says primary care physician Sonia Dar, MD.

Jan. 23, 2020 2   min read

women blowing her nose in the snow

Winter illnesses like flu, sinus infections, common cold, and respiratory issues like pneumonia, bronchitis and COVID-19 can be severe. And with lots of information available online, it's important to know what’s fact and fiction when it comes to winter sickness. Primary Care Physician Sonia Dar, MD, sets the record straight about the most common winter health myths.

1. You get the common cold from being outside

“It’s not true that you get the common cold from going out in the cold,” says Dr. Dar.

However, there is a rise in sickness during the winter season. This is because people spend more time indoors and are in closer contact with more people which ultimately leads to the faster and more frequent spread of germs, causing a rise in sickness.

Learn the difference between the cold and flu

2. You lose body heat by going outside without a hat

While this is not untrue, Dr. Dar says that the head is not the only area of the body that can cause major heat loss. “If you go outside bundled up in a jacket, without a hat but you’re wearing shorts, you will lose more heat from your legs that are exposed than from your head.”

Remember to cover all parts of your body when going out in the cold because any exposed body part can cause a loss of heat.

3. Drinking alcohol keeps you warm

Although alcohol consumption can cause a brief sensation of warm feeling, it is not the right way to warm up. “When you drink alcohol, it makes the arteries that are closer to the surface of your skin dilate. This makes more heat go towards the surface of the skin, so you initially get the sensation of feeling warm.” 

The sensation is counterproductive and causes heat to be pulled away from the core of your body, reducing the body temperature even more.

4. Vitamin C can cure your cold faster

While taking vitamin C helps boost the immune system, it cannot prevent the cold or stop it from getting worse. “Starting vitamin C at the initiation of cold symptoms may help boost your immune system a little but it will not change the outcome.” However, if taking vitamin C helps make you feel better, there is nothing wrong with taking it, Dr. Day said.

NEXT STEPS Read our Flu Guide

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Meet Dr. Dar