The Real Reason Germs Spread in the Winter!

August 28, 2017 by Awais Ali
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Flu season seems to have become a fact of life – and with it numerous theories as to why it exists. Here are just a couple of theories making for interesting reading.

The temperature drops so the air con goes up a notch (or ten!), and the fires are lit.

Sunlight hours become shorter, and the days at work feel longer when you leave in the dark and arrive home after dark.

And there is almost always someone in the house with the sniffles, a scratchy throat and you wish you had taken shares in a pharmaceutical firm when you were young!

And for something so prevalent and routine, you would think that there would be some solid facts as to why this happens….

However there are just theories… and here are a few simplified theories for you to ponder..

Germs can linger for a long time on an underground train (Credit: Getty Images)


Theory #1 we spend more time inside

It’s cold, raining and or foggy, so we hang out together inside more so than in summer.

Because we’re in closer contact with other people who may be carrying germs, we’re more likely to come into contact with the bugs, viruses and bacteria than when we are outside in the sunshine and fresh air.


Theory #2 without much sunlight, we may run low on Vitamin D, weakening our immune system

Remember your mum or Nanna telling you to go and get some fresh air … It was for a very good reason! The sun and fresh air in the lungs doesn’t just make you feel better, Vitamin D is something we all need and with winter, less sunshine could equate to a lack of Vitamin D – and Vitamin D powers the body’s immune system.. so less of it could be impacting our susceptibility to colds and winter bugs.

Another popular idea concerned our physiology: the cold weather wears down your body’s defences against infection. In the short days of winter, without much sunlight, we may run low on Vitamin D, which helps power the body’s immune system, making us more vulnerable to infection.


Theory #3 Wet hair can give us a cold

Did you know that when we breathe in cold air, the blood vessels in our nose constrict to stop us losing heat? This may prevent white blood cells (the warriors that fight germs) from reaching our mucus membranes and killing any viruses that we inhale, allowing them to slip past our defences unnoticed. This is possibly the theory behind the thought that we tend to catch a cold if we go around with wet hair.


Theory #4 cold air is drier and means viruses and bugs float longer

In moist air, particles may remain relatively large, and drop to the floor. In dry air, they break up into smaller pieces – eventually becoming so small that they can float for longer. Colder winter air is drier than warmer summer, more humid air.

This suggests that when you enter a cold but drier room its previous occupants ‘leftovers’ of coughs and sneezes are more likely to still be floating around. Viruses in drier air can float around and stay active for hours – until it is inhaled or ingested, and can lodge in the cells in your throat.

Air conditioning (provided they are regularly maintained) can filter out germs before they circulate which negates the claim you are more likely to get sick on a plane…. Although personally having just flown from overseas, I am sure I am getting a cold!

There is some suggestion though that germs may act somewhat differently in more tropical areas such as Northern Queensland.


Regardless of the theory, if you find yourself feeling under the weather and have a cold or the flu, how you got it doesn’t matter. Making you feel better does!

If you or a loved on becomes sick at night and your usual Doctor or medical centre is closed call your local after hours Doctor on 13 99 99 and we will be there in *90minutes Guaranteed

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The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition

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