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Colds and Memory Loss

As the summer cold season reaches its apex, you can arm yourself by knowing how to avoid and prevent this annoying and yearly occurrence. Can you remember the last time you had a cold? That may be a strange question. Having a cold does not mean you will have memory loss, however, research may link excessive numbers of colds or recurring viral infections to the loss of memory.


There is an area in the brain called the hippocampus region, which is responsible for the memory to be processed. In a recent study performed on mice at the Mayo Clinic, the indication that the picornavirus, along with many other aggressive viruses including those causing polio, diarrhea, and the common cold, has the potential to dangerously affect the hippocampus region. The researchers inject the mice with encephalomyelitis virsus, which is a member of the human poliovirus. After the initial infection, the mice showed difficulty in navigating a maze and remembering routes previously learned in comparison to mice that were uninfected. With looking into the brains of the infected mice, evidence showed that there was severe damage to the hippocampus region, where memory processing takes place. The common cold virus and the poliovirus are in the same family of picornaviruses and Charles Howe at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, speculates that reoccurring severe colds could possibly cause damage to this brain region that accumulates over an individual’s lifespan. Howe and his team identified a compound that prevents mice from suffering hippocampus damage due to viral infection. Hopefully, this compound may help people contracting viral infections some day, specifically those severe infections that lead to brain inflammation.

The common cold is an acute or short-term viral infection of the upper respiratory system that is possibly contracted and spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, or by physical contact with objects that have already been contaminated. The common cold is the most frequently occurring illness in the world. As the cooler weather settles in, people are more prone to stay indoors for longer periods of time resulting in close contact or frequent contact with others.

There are several, self-care actions you can take to help conquer or help prevent a cold:

  • Listen and pay attention to your body. Be sure to allow for plenty of rest giving your body the down time it needs to recoup and fight off any cold contact it may receive.
  • Make an effort to wash your hands more frequently using an antibacterial soap. If you cannot wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer product to eliminate germs. Use after handling money, shaking hands, or any activity that promotes contact with common area furniture and things.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water and other clear fluids as this will help thin out the production of mucus.
  • Take extra vitamin C. According to studies, 1 to 4 grams of vitamin C daily can shorten the duration and severity of a cold.
  • Using herbal supplements like zinc lozenges and herbal Echinacea (3 to 5 ml as a juice or tincture) may also shorten duration and severity of a cold.

Journal reference: Neurobiology of Disease

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.