Does Cold Weather Cause Colds?

A woman in a long-sleeve maroon shirt sits on the sofa covered in a blanket, blowing her nose with one hand and holding a cup of tea with the other.

You may have noticed that almost everyone you know seems to be coming down with something. From colds and flu to RSV, cold and flu season is fully upon us. 

As its name suggests, the common cold is the most common upper respiratory illness in the United States annually. It infects millions due to its contagious nature. On average, adults experience two to three colds per year, while many children can experience nearly double that. 

When we think of colder weather, the common cold is often the culprit to many winter-based cold weather illnesses, like the common cold, so many often wonder, “Does cold weather cause colds?”

While the link between the cold weather and the common cold seems obvious, this respiratory illness has nothing to do with the cold weather. Their tie to one another is more about your closer proximity to others during a specific time of year than the cold weather affecting your respiratory system. 

You may have a cold if you or a loved one is experiencing mild to moderate respiratory issues along with symptoms such as a runny nose and congestion. 

If your symptoms are severe, you should seek urgent care or emergency treatment immediately.

Let’s discuss the common cold in more detail, including symptoms and treatment options, and answer the age-old question, “Does cold weather cause colds?”

What Is the Common Cold?

The common cold is a contagious viral infection that primarily affects your upper respiratory tract. 

Your case can be caused by upwards of 200 different types of viruses. Colds are most often the rhinovirus.

Cold Symptoms

Cold symptoms appear 2 to 3 days after exposure and last about 7 to 10 days from symptom onset.

Symptom type and severity are different for everyone.

The most common cold symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing

In rarer cases, people may experience a low to mid-grade fever. 

So, Does Cold Weather Cause Colds?

The short answer is no. 

A change in temperature, weather, or season does not directly cause a cold. 

The only way to contract the common cold is by encountering someone or something infected with the virus, directly or indirectly.

The common cold spreads from person to person through the air. 

In rare cases, a cold can spread through contact with an infected person’s stools or respiratory secretions.

A cold is contagious from contracting it until your symptoms are entirely resolved. The spreading of a cold can begin before you even experience your first symptom. 

Cold Diagnosis and Treatment

A cold is diagnosed by a quick review of the present symptoms you are experiencing. No formal test is required to confirm a cold diagnosis. 

Most people with a cold recover on their own at home.

Specific measures can help reduce symptom severity and the total length of your cold, including

  • Proper hydration 
  • Adequate rest
  • OTC anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, and decongestants
  • Throat lozenges
  • OTC saline nasal spray
  • A cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier

Cold Care You Can Count On

At Amory Urgent Care, we understand the importance of feeling your best in every season, even when it’s cold outside. 

Because the common cold is a contagious virus, proper diagnosis is essential to slow the spread to others, especially if you live with or are around the immunocompromised.

If you’re experiencing cold symptoms, especially ones that become severe, we are here to help. 

You should visit us today if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Fever that lasts more than 4 days
  • Symptoms that last more than 10 days without improvement
  • Symptoms that improve but then return or worsen, such as a fever
  • An increase in symptoms or severity of chronic medical conditions

Our urgent care facility is open seven days a week with no appointments necessary. Get urgent care treatment now and start feeling better sooner.