from The University of Rice studied
the influence of loneliness on acute illnesses like cold
- People with
feelings of loneliness reported worse symptoms when compared to people who
were not lonely
psychological testing of individuals will provide a better understanding
of how they would cope with illness
bad cold can give you a difficult time,
but scientists from Rice University have found that being lonely can
make a person feel worse. The study brings to the fore the need for
companionship, especially when sick, the details of which are published in the
journal Health Psychology
Chris Fagundes and Angie LeRoy studied how loneliness affected people with a
and found that people who were lonely tended to report that their cold symptoms
were more severe than people with well-connected social networks. LeRoy
explained that being lonely increases the risk for premature mortality
as well as other physical ailments
. The psychologist stated that studies associated
with acute and temporary illnesses like cold have not been carried out.
‘It is important to foster strong relationships which provide emotional succor during illness.’
important facet of this study is that, it is not merely the number of people a
person may know, but how important they are or how they contribute to the
physical and mental well-being of an individual that counts. The psychologists
distinguished between feelings of loneliness
and social isolation.
LeRoy states, the study explores the quality of a relationship, rather than
quantity. The psychologist states that an individual could be in a room full of
people, but still feel isolated or
lonely, the perception or the feelings of the individual are vital when it is
linked to cold symptoms.
and Cold symptoms
study holds a lot of promise in the ability of an individual to recover from an
illness or to cope with the symptoms. The main aspect of the study involved
identifying people who may be lonely and then making sure they get a cold!
study included 159 participants, who were aged between 18 to 55 years, with 60
percent of the study participants being men. The physical and psychological
health of the individuals were assessed, after which they were given nasal
drops that would induce cold symptoms and placed under quarantine in separate
rooms in a hotel. The short loneliness
scale and the social network index were administered to the participants and
they were monitored during the entire period of the study, lasting for 5 days.
study found that
- people who were
lonely were as likely to get a cold as people who did not feel lonely.
- people who were
lonely reported an increased severity of symptoms when compared to people
who were not.
- there was no
association between the size of the social network group of the individual
and how sick they believed they were.
study was based on earlier studies where participants reported feeling worse
physically and mentally when they felt left out or rejected, or even when they
did not share good social connections. According to Dr. Fagundes, an illness
adds to a stress, when there is an emotional compounder, like loss of a loved
one or poor social ties, it adds to it. The study has a strong design, with a
specific predisposition ( loneliness) linked to a specific stressor.
is a need to take psychological factors into account when an individual
recovers from an illness. As Dr. Fagundes said, doctors need to take into
consideration the psychological factors on a regular basis. This will aid in
understanding the condition when the individual falls sick.
common cold is considered to be a minor illness, however, it leads to a lot of
economic burden with many people staying away from work. The main aspect is how
these people feel rather than how severe their cold may actually be.
study reveals the positive aspects of having meaningful relationships. An
individual may have a large social network but there may not be any strength in
these relationships, resulting in loneliness. Leading a well-connected life
would ensure that people have the right support, so they don't feel bad when they are sick.
is not merely about cold symptoms, but loneliness can lead to lower skin
temperature, according to a study conducted by Hans IJzermana titled
"Cold-blooded loneliness: Social exclusion leads to lower skin temperatures".
The study details how people who are lonely undergo changes in the body that
leads to greater perception of how cold it is. Such people tend to seek warmer places
in a room and will
prefer warmer drinks
. The scientists conducted experiments to
evaluate how people felt in a social setting where they seemed to be excluded.
In one of their experiments, they were made to dip their finger into a warm cup
of water after they felt social exclusion. The study participants reported
alleviation of the negative impact of social exclusion.
Loneliness can be a
daunting feeling, which has for long been associated only with mental
well-being. However, current studies show that there could be physical
repercussions which should be watched out for. Fostering healthy relationships
would have a deep impact on the health of the individual, making large social
network groups meaningless.