Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cause of the Common Cold

“Catch a chill and you’ll catch a cold,” goes the saying. However, “for more than a century, scientists have invested an extraordinary amount of time and energy in debunking this old saw,” reports The New York Times. “But despite their efforts, the link between colds and the weather still lingers and continues to inspire yet more research.” Beginning with Louis Pasteur, in 1878, thousands of experiments have been conducted to determine what part, if any, chilling the body has on catching a cold. Not surprisingly, researchers are still not certain of the answer. Dr. Jack Gwaltney, Jr., one of the world’s leading experts on the common cold, suggests that it is humidity rather than temperature that promotes colds. The bottom line is that “the common cold is a complex entity—not a single disease at all, but many similar ones, and that all of them cycle in response to the weather in ways that are still not understood,” says the Times.