By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’ve all heard our parents say, “Don’t go outside with wet hair or without a coat — you’ll catch your death!”

That has Pat from Edina wanting to know: Can you catch a cold from the cold? Good Question.

“We know that colds are caused by a virus infection. They’re not caused be cold temperature,” said Dr. Mark Schleiss, director of pediatrics infectious diseases at the University of Minnesota. “You have to have a virus in order to have a cold.”

He says one of the reasons why cold could be more common in the winter could be because people are more likely to stay inside.

Because transferring viruses requires human interactions, being in more enclosed places could mean increased transmission.

But, there’s a twist. Could the cold weather make someone more likely to catch a cold?

(credit: CBS)

“I think that’s possible,” Dr. Schleiss said. “We don’t really understand all of the science yet.”

He pointed to a 2015 study from Yale University that found infecting mice with a virus in colder temperature made them more likely to get sick and stay sick longer.

“We think that the colder temperature may impact the mouse’s immune response,” he said.

At the same time, he cautions against extrapolating what happens in a controlled experiment with mice with the impact on humans.

“It’s probably a combination of temperature, the impact on the immune system and the way people interact with each other during the winter months,” Dr. Schleiss said.

He also warns cold weather can really affect people with asthma. It can exacerbate asthma, so adding a virus to the condition can make a person very sick.

Heather Brown