NEW ORLEANS -- Everyone is familiar with the common cold. Young children get five-to-seven a year, and adults two-to-three.
But there's also a familiar saying that is spread from parent to child, and from generation to generation about colds.
"My grandma used to say if you would come from outside sweating and go into the AC, that you would catch a cold," one woman said. When asked if she believed her she replied, " I believed my mom and my relatives for a really long time actually." But today? "I'm still not sure," she laughed.
So was mom right, or wrong, when it comes to catching colds?
So to verify, we asked Dr. Fred Lopez, a Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at LSU Health Sciences Center. He explained viruses are spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes near your face, or when you touch the virus on a surface or someone's hands, and then drive it in your eyes, nose, or mouth, from your hands. So the answer:
"No, I don't think it makes you any more susceptible to colds. Infections again, the responsibility for the infection itself is a virus. It's not the temperature itself," Dr. Lopez said.
What about during winter?
"Mom would tell me, 'Don't go without your coat outside. It's cold out. You'll catch a death of cold," said a man who says he did believe his mom at the time.
Well, the virus still has to get in your system and in winter, more people are in close quarters indoors. So you may be exposed to more infected people, but the virus may travel in cold, dry air better from a cough or sneeze. And when your nasal passages are cold, immune cells might not work as well.
"And as a result, the viruses, if they're present in the nasal passage, may replicate more effectively," explained Dr. Lopez. But the virus still has to be present to make you sick.
So we can verify, and the some people we stopped to talk to, figured it's not the temperature, but it's the spread of the virus that makes you sick. But the myth is still spread.
"Playing out in the rain, you get play in the rain, you're going to get sick. Lowers your immune system," another man remembers his mother saying. "But it's not true."
"Yes," said a young boy about his mother telling him the cold air conditioning would make him sick when coming in from a hot day. His mother standing next to him agreed, "I have."
But when asked if she thought her own words to her son were true? She replied, laughing, "No. I think you get sick with germs."
And she is right.
Dr. Lopez explained that there are more than 200 different cold viruses. And you don't get the same cold strain twice because your body builds immunity once you've been infected by a particular virus.