There are a number of factors that contribute to or increase your risk of acquiring the common cold. Risk factors include:
The common cold is more prevalent in infants and preschoolers. Young children are more vulnerable because their immune systems haven’t matured and haven’t developed resistance to most of the culprit viruses. Young children are also often in close contact with other children. They are also less likely to wash their hands throughout the day—one of the best ways to prevent a cold—or to put their hands over their mouths when they cough and sneeze. These factors allow cold viruses to spread more easily. When newborn babies have a cold, they can have difficulty breathing which can interfere with breastfeeding.
The immune systems of infants and preschool-age children aren’t able to fend off the viruses that cause the common cold in the same way that adults’ immune systems can. In older children and adults, stress and a lack of sleep can also impact the immune system by leaving it more vulnerable to infection. Studies have found a link between not getting enough sleep or not getting quality sleep and catching the common cold. Sleep deprivation weakens immune function and makes it more difficult for the body to defeat common cold viruses.
The common cold is more prevalent in the cold-weather months. During the fall and winter, adults and children are indoors more often. This puts them in close proximity to and in contact with one other which also increases the risk of spreading the cold virus. In locations with no real winter weather, colds are more frequent in the rainy season, for the same reason. Cold viruses also thrive in dry conditions which can dry the mucus membranes and cause a stuffy nose or scratchy throat.
Smoking weakens the immune system, which is your body’s natural self-defense system against the common cold. Smoking or secondhand smoke also exposes you to toxic chemicals that can irritate the throat lining and worsen common cold symptoms such as a sore throat. Research shows that second hand smoke causes millions of colds each year.
Stress may make you more vulnerable to catching a cold.
Any allergic diseases that affect your nose and throat may put you at greater risk for contracting a cold.