Does the cold weather really affect our chances of getting a cold?

Winter backyard

With the freezing cold temperatures we have been having recently, it’s hard not to think about how the cold weather might affect our chances of getting sick. Well, a recent study looked at this very topic.

Researchers at Yale looked at the effect of temperature on a common virus that causes colds. In the study, the researchers looked at the immune response to the rhinovirus. The rhinovirus is the most common cause of the common cold. Using mouse cells, the researchers studied the effect of temperature on viral replication.

The study found that there was a weaker immune response to the virus at lower temperatures. This weaker immune response may allow the virus to replicate more aggressively. This, in turn, could lead to a higher chance of developing a viral infection.

So, there may be some scientific basis to the old adage of keeping warm to avoid getting sick.

A cold can lead to nasal stuffiness, nasal drainage, facial pressure, and a general feeling of misery. In most situations, a cold goes away on its own. Sometimes, though, a cold is just the beginning. A cold can help create conditions that might make a bacterial sinus infection more likely. In some situations, lingering infections and inflammation can lead to chronic nasal and sinus problems like chronic sinusitis.

Here is an interview with one of the study's authors conducted by Science Friday:

Dr. Goyal gives presentations at the International Rhinologic Society Meeting

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Presentation on Sinus Surgery

Dr. Goyal presenting

Dr. Goyal giving presentation

Dr. Parul Goyal, from Syracuse Otolaryngology, gave presentations this week at the International Rhinologic Society Meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.   The meeting was the largest Rhinology conference held in the Middle East, featuring speakers and participants from all over the world.  The aim of the meeting was for surgeons to learn and share knowledge about the treatment of problems affecting the nose and sinuses.

Dr. Goyal spoke about frontal sinus surgery, treatment of clival chordoma, and the use of external techniques in sinus surgery.  He also performed a demonstration surgical dissection to teach participants how to perform two surgical procedures: endoscopic dacryocystorhinostomy and orbital decompression.

Dr. Goyal was joined in Dubai by another local surgeon from Syracuse, Dr. Amar Suryadevara.  Dr. Suryadevara spoke about nasal valve surgery.  Drs. Goyal and Suryadevara specialize in surgery to help patients with chronic nasal congestion.  Nasal valve surgery is a type of surgery that can help patients with nasal congestion.

The two surgeons frequently work together on patients with complex problems affecting the nose and sinuses.  In addition to performing surgery, both doctors teach other physicians about the types of surgery used to treat patients with nasal congestion.  The two have also published research studies about surgery to treat nasal valve problems.

Dr. Parul Goyal and Dr. Amar Suryadevara teach nasal valve surgery courses

Dr. Goyal

Dr. Parul Goyal

Dr. Suryadevara

Dr. Amar Suryadevara

Dr. Parul Goyal and Dr. Amar Suryadevara recently presented instructional courses on nasal surgery.  The two surgeons presented their course, Optimizing Outcomes in Nasal Valve Surgery, to other physicians and surgeons at two national meetings in Orlando, Florida.  The courses were presented at the Fall Meeting of the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.

Many patients suffer from chronic nasal congestion.  There are many problems in the nose that can cause nasal congestion.  Problems that can lead to nasal congestion include a deviated septum, enlarged turbinates, and narrow nasal valves.  Patients who suffer from chronic problems with nasal congestion sometimes benefit from surgery.

Drs. Goyal and Suryadevara both specialize in nasal surgery.  Dr. Goyal is a Rhinologist who focuses on surgery involving the structures inside the nose.  Dr. Suryadevara is a Facial Plastic Surgeon who focuses on external nasal reconstruction.  The two surgeons frequently work together on patients with complex problems affecting the nose and sinuses.  In addition to performing surgery, both doctors teach other physicians about the types of surgery used to treat patients with nasal congestion.  The two have also published research studies about surgery to treat nasal valve problems.

The nasal valve is typically the most narrow portion of a patient's nose.  In patients who have chronic congestion, this area can be particularly  narrow.  In their courses, Drs. Goyal and Suryadevara described how physicians can diagnose and treat patients who have narrow nasal valves.  Both doctors point out that the best way to diagnose problems in patients with nasal congestion is to carefully examine the nose.  They do that by looking at the shape, size, and strength of the structures on the inside and the outside of the nose.  For the inside of the nose, using a tool called an endoscope can be very helpful.  After finding the narrow areas, surgeons should target surgery to an individual patient's problems.

Dr. Sobin and Dr. Goyal’s article featured in leading medical journal

Lindsay Sobin

Dr. Lindsay Sobin

Dr. Goyal

Dr. Parul Goyal

Dr. Lindsay Sobin and Dr. Parul Goyal have their article featured in leading medical journal.

Dr. Lindsay Sobin, of SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Dr. Parul Goyal, of Syracuse Otolaryngology, recently conducted a study that looked at reviews found on online doctor rating sites.  Their article, Trends of Online Ratings of Otolaryngologists: What Do Your Patients Really Think of You?, was recently published in the medical journal JAMA Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery.  Dr. Sobin was also featured in an audio interview conducted by the journal.

Many patients use the internet to find information about their doctors.  Knowing this, Drs. Sobin and Goyal looked at the patterns in ratings for Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, & Throat) doctors in the northeastern part of the United States.

The study found that most of the doctors had profiles on the rating websites, and that most reviews were generally positive.  Certain types of specialists tended to have higher ratings than others, as a group.

While patients may find the information on these websites helpful, Drs. Sobin and Goyal caution that the information in itself does not speak to the quality of care a particular doctor provides.  However, the ratings are still important because they may impact patients' decisions.

Links to the article and interview are posted below:

Article at the JAMA Otolaryngology website

Dr. Sobin's interview at the JAMA Otolaryngology website