LIVING

Loneliness Only Makes Your Cold Feel Worse

03/31/2017 10:57 EDT | Updated 03/31/2017 10:57 EDT

The cure for the common cold might be as simple as having a companion.

A new study published in the journal Health Psychology suggests lonely people are likely to have worse cold symptoms compared to those who feel less alone.

To conduct the study, researchers exposed 213 participants to the common cold virus and quarantined them for five days. The participants were then scored for their level of loneliness and their level of social isolation. Of the 213, only 159 people became ill, and of those 159, those who identified as lonely were 39 per cent more likely to report severe symptoms.

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Though the researchers from the University of Houston can't say for certain why loneliness is linked to worse symptoms, lead researcher Angie LeRoy suggests loneliness has a major impact on the inflammatory response of the virus.

And it's quality, not quantity that counts. The researchers noted that the size of participants' social networks played no role in how sick they felt.

"We looked at the quality of people's relationships, not the quantity," LeRoy said in a press release. "You can be in a crowded room and feel lonely. That perception is what seems to be important when it comes to cold symptoms."

In recent years, loneliness has been linked to some serious health conditions like heart disease and early death. It is even considered as deadly as cigarette smoke and obesity.

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