Gregory Whitney | A Cold Nose Is Not Healthy

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Winter is cold, flu and COVID season, but why? Conventional wisdom assumes clustering of people indoors is the cause. Some time ago scientists found small biological entities (vesicles) in the human nose inner lining and learned these vesicles engulf and defeat invading viruses. Recently researchers discovered lowering the temperature of the nose inner lining by as little as 9 degrees Fahrenheit causes the vesicles to flee to warmer areas. 

To use a football analogy, the nose’s defensive linemen tire of being cold and go on spring break, allowing the virus to score. Just guessing, but I bet the defensive linemen do not return from spring break very quickly. 

Armed with this knowledge, I started wearing a vented N-95 mask on frosty morning walks and while driving cold vehicles, keeping my nose warm and humidified. Seems like the nose would be most vulnerable when moving from cold outside air to an indoor virus-infested area. So I keep my mask on after entering populated rooms. 

Is it working? I think so. At least my nose stays warmer and I am “following the science.” Reference for fact checkers: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, “Cold Exposure Impairs Extra-celluar Vesicle Swarm-mediated Nasal Antiviral Immunity.” 

Gregory Whitney


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