Your brain takes a beating when you come down with a cold

If you’ve got a bad cold, do everyone a favor. Stay home.

The primary reason is obvious. Best to keep your cold to yourself. Don’t share it.

But there’s another good reason. You’re working with an impaired brain.

A new study from the U.K. shows that cold symptoms aren’t the root cause of slow thinking and feeling in the dumps. Researchers believe that the common cold virus itself actually causes changes in your brain.

Of course, a throbbing sinus headache and irritated eyes don’t help matters. Especially if you spend your day at a computer screen.

How exactly a cold virus alters your brain is unknown. One theory is that inflammatory proteins may interfere with neurotransmitters.

Whatever the cause, the results are documented. Alertness drops off. Reaction time lags. Memory becomes spotty. Information processing slows.

So if you’ve got a job that depends on any of those functions, expect less-than-stellar results. Better yet, use a sick day if you can. A day of rest will help your brain bounce back.

“Effects of the common cold on mood, psychomotor performance, the encoding of new information, speed of working memory and semantic processing” Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, Vol. 26, No. 7, October 2012,

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