Houston has been experiencing very cold weather very early in the autumn season, offering an opportunity to wear sweaters and long sleeve shirts and raising questions about catching cold when outdoors.
There are old-time myths that mothers still extort to their children when temperatures drop:
Wear a coat or you’ll catch your death of a cold.
Never go outside with wet hair when it’s cold out.
Don’t go outside with bare feet.
Keep your neck warm to ward off catching a cold.
None of those myths are true, according to Dr. Isabel Valdez, a physician assistant and instructor of general internal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Cold symptoms can be brought on by bacteria or virus, but not chilly weather.
Get plenty of sleep, eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids, and most importantly, wash your hands frequently during times when communicable illnesses are rampant. That’s the most effective way to ward off a cold, Dr. Valdez suggests. Throw out tissues after one use and cover your mouth when you cough.
If you find yourself sniffling, coughing and congested, she suggests you rest, drink fluids and soups, and says some people find zinc lozenges reduce duration of feeling poorly. Stop exercising and avoid being too strenuous so your body’s energy goes to healing.
If you experience these symptoms, go to a doctor:
A high fever that lasts more than one or two days.
A cough that lasts more than two weeks.
A sore throat that makes it difficult to swallow or eat.