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Lonely people are worse off with colds
Colds are a common disease in Germany. Especially in the cold season, the number of people affected increases. Researchers found that loneliness makes people who have a cold feel even worse.
The University of Houston researchers found that loneliness increases the symptoms of a cold. Affected people actually feel worse. The doctors published the results of their study in a press release from the American Psychological Association.
Loneliness can have dire consequences for human health
When people are lonely and have weaker social networks, this leads to an increase in the symptoms of colds. "Our research has shown that loneliness also increases the likelihood of premature death or disease development," explains Angie LeRoy of Rice University.
Feeling loneliness affects symptoms more
“So far, no studies have been done that look at the effects of loneliness on a common disease - the common cold. We found in our study that perceived loneliness has a greater effect on cold symptoms than actual loneliness, ”added the author.
Personal perception of loneliness is most important
"We analyzed the quality of people's relationships, not their quantity," says the researcher. People can be in a crowded room and still feel lonely. The subjective perception of loneliness seems to have a greater impact on the symptoms than previously thought.
Doctors examine almost 160 participants for their study
The researchers examined 159 subjects for their study. All of the participants were unmarried and between the ages of 18 and 55. Almost 60 percent of the subjects were men. The subjects were examined for their psychological and physical health after they received nasal drops, which caused colds. All participants were quartered in a hotel room for five days.
Lonely people don't get colds more often
The subjects were medically monitored during and after the five-day stay. After adapting to gender, age, time of year, depressive affects and social isolation, the researchers found that lonely people do not get a cold more often than non-lonely people.
With a real cold, loneliness causes increased symptoms
However, when people did get a cold, lonely people showed more severe symptoms of a cold. "The size of the participants' social networks didn't seem to have any impact," the researchers said.
Doctors should consider loneliness with colds
What makes the current study new is the close experimental design of the study. “It's about a special predisposition (loneliness) that interacts with a certain stressor,” explains author Professor Dr. Chris Fagundes from Rice University. Doctors should consider psychological factors when examining them in the future. It would help to understand how feeling loneliness can affect a cold in order to initiate a more effective treatment. (as)