Being lonely makes getting a cold way worse, study says

Led by researchers from Rice University in Houston, TX, the study found that people who felt lonely reported worse cold symptoms than individuals who did not feel lonely. There was no difference when it came to catching the cold, but among those who did get sick, those who were lonely turned out to be 39% more likely to report more severe symptoms compared to those who were not lonely, LeRoy says. "Loneliness puts people at risk for premature mortality and all kinds of other physical illnesses", said a press release sent by the university.

A study in the United States has found that loneliness can make the symptoms of the common cold feel even worse.

Writing in the journal Health Psychology, LeRoy and colleagues from a clutch of U.S. universities describe how they probed the link between cold symptoms and loneliness by asking 213 healthy adults to complete questionnaires related to loneliness, their social networks and their mood before being infected with the common cold through nasal drops.

Further analysis of the participants' mucus showed that lonelier people were not in fact sicker but they felt worse than those with more vibrant social lives.

This is one of several recent studies highlighting the effect a person's loneliness can have on their experience of an illness. "Colds generally make you feel less socially interactive: more withdrawn, more inner directed".

But results show that feeling worse was not linked to the size of a person's social network.

The study was carried out by researchers from Rice University, the University of Houston and the University of DE, all in the US.

For starters, social isolation is quantifiable and is reflected by the sheer size of one's social network and how often one delves in social contact.

More than studying a concrete disease, researchers tried to link psychosocial factors and symptoms of illness as reported by the patient. Health Psychology, published online March 29, 2017.

The researchers in the new study said their findings suggest that people's perception of isolation may be more powerful than objective social isolation.

A new study has found a relationship between cold symptoms and loneliness. These results remained even after researchers took into account participants' gender, age, the season, and social isolation. The Jackson scoring system was used, where participants rate the severity of eight symptoms over the past 24 hours.

Psychologists from Rice University in Texas have determined that loneliness makes suffering through a cold an even more miserable experience. Some of those reporting worse symptoms may no longer have been feeling so lonely.

"We looked at the quality of people's relationships, not the quantity", explains Le Roy. It might be that this group have a higher or lower loneliness level than other groups, so the findings may not apply to the entire United Kingdom population.

  • Joanne Flowers