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Rhinology. 2002 Sep;40(3):109-14.

Acute cooling of the body surface and the common cold.

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Common Cold Centre, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, United Kingdom.


There is a widely held belief that acute viral respiratory infections are the result of a "chill" and that the onset of a respiratory infection such as the common cold is often associated with acute cooling of the body surface, especially as the result of wet clothes and hair. However, experiments involving inoculation of common cold viruses into the nose, and periods of cold exposure, have failed to demonstrate any effect of cold exposure on susceptibility to infection with common cold viruses. Present scientific opinion dismisses any cause-and-effect relationship between acute cooling of the body surface and common cold. This review proposes a hypothesis; that acute cooling of the body surface causes reflex vasoconstriction in the nose and upper airways, and that this vasoconstrictor response may inhibit respiratory defence and cause the onset of common cold symptoms by converting an asymptomatic subclinical viral infection into a symptomatic clinical infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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