Q: When we get a warm spell in the winter, my children always seem to come down with colds. Why?
A: Viruses, not the weather, cause colds.
Virus particles are present in large numbers in the nose and mouth secretions of people who have colds. These fluids spread the viruses during the normal contacts people have while talking, eating, playing and touching each other.
If your children enjoy a warm spell in the winter by getting together with friends, the colds they acquire may seem to be related to the weather. Actually, they are related to coming into contact with more people more often.
Conversely, when it is very cold outside, people tend to spend more time in close groups indoors, which promotes the spread of viruses, too. This has led to the mistaken belief that cold weather causes colds. Again, blame the virus, not the weather.
Dr. Wilson is director of pediatric primary care of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.