The common cold and winter weather go hand in hand. That’s one of those things that everyone takes for granted.

It seems that cold weather helps to cause the common cold. The question is though, is that really the case?

Here’s what science has to say on the matter:

The common cold is caused by a number of viruses, with Rhinoviruses being responsible for more than half of all instances of the common cold around the world. While most rhinoviruses cause only mild symptoms, if left untreated, they can cause more serious illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis. That’s especially if the people who are exposed to them already have weakened or compromised immune systems.

Rhinoviruses are usually spread via direct person-to-person contact or through the air as small droplets which people inhale. Once inside the body, they replicate rapidly, often spreading through the upper respiratory tract.

There’s a growing body of research that confirms what some people know intuitively. Rhinoviruses are able to replicate more effectively and efficiently at lower temperatures. In particular, any temperatures lower than those found inside the human body. Lower temperatures brought on by winter weather lowers the temperature inside your nasal cavities, which is exactly where Rhinoviruses often first establish themselves.

Other research confirms that influenza viruses, which cause the flu, also spread more easily in cold, dry air.

Add the fact that other research indicates that cold weather and lack of sunlight tends to weaken people’s immune systems in general. Then, you have the perfect recipe for an increased chance of illness. All that to say, yes. Research confirms that winter weather can and does contribute to getting the common cold.

With that in mind, during the winter months, your best bet is to keep a watchful eye on your health, take a vitamin D supplement (to offset the reduction in Vitamin D that most people get naturally during the summer), get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and wash your hands regularly to reduce your risk.