A head cold apparently does more than give you a runny nose or a bad cough. It affects your brain, according to a recent study.
“Muddled thinking” and “feeling of malaise” may be caused by changes in the brain itself, not “cold symptoms” themselves,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Journal Tuesday reported on a study that was published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity. That research found that a cold can impact brain functions such as attention, “behavior and cognitive function,” The Journal wrote, “even when symptoms aren’t present.”
In the study, researchers measured mental functioning in 189 subjects in the United Kingdom before and after they got head colds, The Journal said. Of that group, 48 subjects came down with colds. They, along with those that didn’t get ill, were tested twice.
Scientists found that there were meaningful differences in such measures as alertness, well-being, memory and reaction time between those who had colds and those who didn’t, according to The Journal.
Yet researchers didn’t see a real link between cold symptoms such as a runny nose and mood changes, for example. That would seem to indicate that the symptoms aren’t linked to — or the causes of — the changes detected in the tests, The Journal said.
Additional research could try to determine if things such as “psychomotor slowing during a cold,” according to The Journal, could be caused “inflammatory proteins and neurotransmitter changes in the brain.”