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You Can't Catch a Cold out in the Cold

Infections aren't really spread that way, experts say

SUNDAY, Dec. 21, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Who hasn't warned their children to bundle up in winter so they won't catch a cold?

The truth is that, despite the common belief, colds, flu and other infections are typically not spread as a result of weather or being out in the cold.

The myth probably persists because colds and the flu are indeed more common during winter months. But the American Lung Association says such infections, in fact, have little to do with weather and are simply more prevalent in winter months because that's when viruses commonly spread across the country.

The most common ways that infections are spread are through touching respiratory secretions from one's skin, either directly -- for instance, shaking someone's hand -- or indirectly on environmental surfaces, such as touching a doorknob and then rubbing your eyes or touching your mouth with that same hand, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

That's why experts strongly encourage frequent hand-washing -- whether you have a cold or not -- as the best means for preventing the spread of germs. Even if you've got well-scrubbed hands, however, colds and flu can also commonly be spread by inhaling infectious particles in the air, for instance, if you are near someone who sneezed.

Colds, flu and other infections are believed to be especially high among children, not only because of their closer body contact in play, but because of their constant exposure to groups of others in schools.

More information

Here's more information on the common cold.

SOURCES: U.S. Food and Drug Administration; American Lung Association
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