Cold caused by drafts – can that be possible?

Girl with flowing hair at an open train window

Drafts make some people worry about catching a cold. (Source: alkir)

“Close the window, it’s drafty!”: Anyone who says that might be worried about catching a cold due to drafts. Here you can find out whether this concern is even justified.

A cold cannot be caused by drafts alone – just as it cannot be caused by cold alone. The cause of cold symptoms such as a sore throat , cough and runny nose is always an infection with viruses that trigger inflammation in the upper respiratory tract. That’s why the common cold is also called a flu-like infection:

  • flupal means flu-like (although the symptoms are milder than flu)
  • Infect stands for infection or contagion

However, the risk of catching a cold can increase due to drafts. This happens when the draft cools the body completely or in parts or dries out the mucous membranes in the nose and mouth: This can weaken the body’s immune system, making it easier for existing cold viruses to penetrate the body.

Nevertheless, it is far from advisable to avoid drafts indoors. On the contrary: regular, thorough ventilation can significantly reduce the risk of catching a cold. Because the viruses spread primarily through droplet infection:

  • Anyone who has a cold and speaks, sneezes or coughs releases the pathogens into the air via tiny droplets of saliva.
  • From there, other people can inhale the cold viruses directly and thus become infected.
  • Drafts caused by ventilation remove cold viruses from the room air and thus reduce the risk of infection.However, even the most thorough ventilation indoors does not provide 100 percent protection against a cold. Drafts can only eliminate floating viruses – but not those that adhere to objects or surfaces. Anyone who touches them with their hands and then touches their mouth or eyes can still become infected – even if there is no longer a cold person present.Therefore, in addition to a sufficient supply of fresh air, it is recommended to regularly wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water . By the way, both of these not only prevent colds, but also other respiratory infections such as flu or Covid-19.


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