Did bare wet feet make me sick?
Earlier in December, Orange County was blessed with a wonderful, much-needed deluge (can’t wait till the wildflowers that have sprouted in response begin to bloom!); one cloud-burst left my back yard flooded for a few minutes, so of course I had to get out there and puddle-jump.
Days later, I came down with a very bad case of upper respiratory flu, from which I am still recovering.
Of course “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” immediately comes to mind at times like this.
Don’t parents everywhere warn kids not to go outside and get their feet wet, or “they’ll catch their death of cold”?
Here’s what I found on the Cardiff University (UK) “Common Cold Centre” web site:
Folklore indicates that chilling such as getting your feet wet in winter and going out with wet hair may cause a common cold but until recently there has been no scientific research to support this idea. Recent research has demonstrated that chilling may cause the onset of common cold symptoms5. A study at the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff UK in 2005 took 90 students and chilled their feet in cold water for 20 minutes and showed that the chilled group had twice as many colds over the next 5 days as a control group of 90 students whose feet were not chilled. The authors propose that when colds are circulating in the community some persons carry the virus without symptoms and that chilling the feet causes a constriction of blood vessels in the nose and this inhibits the immune response and defences in the nose and allows the virus to replicate and cause cold symptoms. The chilled person believes they have caught a cold but in fact the virus was already present in the nose but not causing symptoms.
Hmmm . . . interesting . . . is this what happened to me?
All I know is I’ve been too sick to run for two weeks . . . which has served to make me grateful for the many days that I have been healthy enough to get out on the trails–in 2014, and throughout my running life. The gift of running is something that is to easy to take for granted when things are going well, and I hope this illness helps me to remain aware of what a privilege it is to be able to move smoothly (and shoelessly!) through Orange County’s sage-scented hills.
Here’s looking forward to better health, and more barefoot trail miles, in 2015 . . .