Risk factors for a cold


Predisposing factors that increase one’s risk for getting a cold aren’t really known.

Chilling the body surface doesn’t by itself induce colds, and the ease of acquiring a cold doesn’t correlate clearly with fitness, nutritional health or upper airway abnormalities (such as enlarged tonsils).

However, contracting a cold virus may be facilitated by fatigue, emotional distress or allergies.

Risk factors include:

  • Exposure to someone with a cold.
  • Age (babies and young children are at greatest risk).
  • Weakened immune system due to illness such as HIV or cancer, using certain medications (e.g. long-term steroid use), or organ transplantation.
  • Season: Colds are more common in autumn and winter.
  • Cigarette smoking.

Reviewed by Cape Town-based general practitioner, Dr Dalia Hack. March 2019.

Read more:

- What is a cold?

- Symptoms of the common cold

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