A team of researchers from the Rice University has discovered that people who are socially isolated might experience a worsening of symptoms when they catch a cold. Their approach between mental state and the cold suggests that certain stress factors associated with loneliness might make cold-like symptoms seem worse more than they really are.
As you probably know by now, one of the worst feelings in the world is having to deal with the pesky common cold. Your nose is runny, and you feel like someone bashed your head in with a baseball bat. Even more discouraging is the fact that there’s not more you can do then let the disease run its natural course.
Now, we all know that the best way to deal with an impromptu cold is plenty of bed rest, liquids, and, of course, some peace and quiet. That wouldn’t be much of an issue if the cold didn’t take us by surprise. Imagine the last time you had to wrestle a cold, and you couldn’t get away from the office.
And now, for some more bad news. According to a new study from the Rice University, it would seem that people stricken with loneliness are having a worse time dealing with the symptoms associated with the common cold than people who are in a relationship or have many friends.
It may seem silly, but it seems that loneliness knows exactly when to strike and pin you to the ground. For the purpose of this study, Angie LeRoy, a Rice University medical researcher and the coordinator of this project, asked the help of approximately 160 participants.
All volunteers agreed to participate in a 5-day study which involved social isolation and getting infecting with the common cold virus. So, for the duration of the project, each participant was isolated in a hotel room, with minimum human interaction.
At the end of the study, LeRoy and her team noted that not all of the participants came down with cold-like symptoms. However, those who came down with the cold and were also more socially isolated experienced a symptoms exaggeration.
More specifically, LeRoy observed that participant who was stricken by loneliness experienced almost 20 percent acuter symptoms than those in a relationship. The head scientists said that the study’s results should be taken with a grain of salt, as it does not prove that loneliness can actually make us feel worse when we are sick.
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