Farewell to the cold February weather - and the month we're truly sick of

Did the big chill increase the chance of catching a cold? Yes it did, says the expert

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The Independent Online

Cheer up, we're finally at the end of the dreariest February for years - and hopefully can put aside being surrounded by people sniffing, coughing and spluttering.

There are two links between February's tediously repetitive days of grey skies and temperatures that rarely climbed much above freezing.

Professor Ron Eccles, Director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, explains: "Because we have had such cold weather people have been keeping indoors more and crowding is a factor that will increase the incidence of colds."

But that isn't the only link between freezing and spluttering.

"Chilling your nose and throat make them more susceptible to infection and you don't see many people wearing a scarf covering their nose. The chilling slows down the cleansing mechanism."

He argues, in technical terms, that "this reduction in nasal temperature is sufficient to inhibit respiratory defences against infection such as mucociliary clearance and the phagocytic activity of leukocytes."

For the record, it looks like the average February temperature was about 1.5C colder than average. Stepeh Davenport, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said the average central England temperature to the 25th was 3.2C compared with an average of 4.5C.