Monday, October 31, 2011

Sickey Sickey Sick Sick...

So yesterday was my birthday (yaaay) but today is the one week-a-versary of me being very very sick (boooo). I figure that I'd take the opportunity to make a brief correction to one of my Bullshit videos:

3:55 - 4:55 is what I feel needs correcting. Don't go outside without a jacket or you'll catch a cold!

Of course being cold will not make you sick in itself, BUT it is true that it can contribute. Let me explain a little further:

In order to be sick you need to have the sickness-causing pathogen in your body. However, you usually are harboring such pathogens for weeks on end without any symptoms. The pathogen lives in your body, where your immune system does a decent job of fighting it, therefore you have no idea that this private little battle is going on. However, if you subject your body to a sudden stress, like staying out all night without a jacket or suddenly stopping eating for a day or two, you will cause your body to divert resources from fighting this pathogen to protecting your body from this sudden stress, which can tip the scales in favor of the pathogen and allow it to take over, resulting in sickness. This is where the "myth" comes from, although it doesn't really feel right to call it a myth because there is some truth to it, it's just a misunderstanding as to what kind of contribution the outdoor temperature can have to a cold, fever or flu.

Now I must get back to my medicine and bed. If only I hadn't slept with the window open that night I could have avoided getting my very first tonsillitis!


  1. You know that your body can't divert resources from fighting a virus to warming you up, right?

    1. I may have been oversimplifying there, but it really depends on what you mean by resources. No, white blood cells are not responsible for warming you up. However you do need energy to do it, and you need energy to have a good strong immune system. It is most likely why there is a direct relationship between malnutrition and immunity/susceptibility to infection. While theories vary as to why being exposed to cold/wet makes you more likely to develop cold symptoms (and there have been studies that demonstrated this, along with others that did not find the difference statistically significant, but one would need to take a good look at their methods to find the discrepancy), stress is one of them

  2. In theory, sure, major stress could result reduced white cell count, but it would have to be IMMENSE stress. I don't get sick after riding my scooter in 30-degree weather for several hours at a time.

    In short - theory yes, real-life bullshit :)

  3. Calling your thinking here bull shit.