In Germany it’s a common belief that drafts/draughts can make you ill.
Because of that, car and train windows typically get/stay closed, even when it’s really hot; and, for instance, on a warm day in a beer garden, people might change seats/tables when they’re sitting in a draught. It’s believed that the negative effect is heavily increased if you have wet hair, or if you are in poor health.

  • The German Wikipedia article about draughts says that it might stem from a widespread ancient fear of daemons/wind.

    This is probably based on the German SPIEGEL article Dämonen am Fenster from 1968 (translated: Daemons at the window).

  • The English SPIEGEL ONLINE article Draftophobia: Blown Away by the Fear of Air says in its introduction that it’s a "German quirk":

    A lot of Germans don't like drafts. Some even seem to have an irrational fear of moving air, believing it can cause pneumonia, flu, colds, clogged arteries and just about every malady imaginable. Two readers offer their views of this unusual German quirk.

  • From the English GLS article Why I love German (archived by the Wayback Machine), which originally appeared in the FAZ:

    […] Don't be fooled. For obscure reasons, Germans have got it into their heads that air is the enemy, especially indoors.

    For a bit of enjoyment, go into a cafe on a dull winter's day, one where the guests can barely be distinguished through the cigarette smoke, and tilt open a window just a crack. Before you have retreated three steps, the cry Es zieht! -- "There's a draft!" -- will go up and in a flurry of panic the window will be slammed shut. […] What elsewhere is known as a breeze is, in the Teutonic realm, the grim reaper's mocking breath.

    This is also referenced by the German 'USA Erklärt' blog post Die seltsame Angst der Germanen vor sich bewegender Luft (translated: The strange fear of moving air by Germanic people).

Is there evidence that staying (e.g., sitting) in a draught can make humans ill? Can illnesses be caused by the "moving air" of the draft itself, not merely any resulting drop in temperature? (Cold alone is covered in a previous question, and examples are given above of people people avoiding drafts even when the resulting temperature is not cold).

(It seems to be more widespread to believe that draughts can lead to muscle tenseness, but I want to focus on illnesses in this question.)

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    Definitely NOT unique to Germany. Many Russians are sure of the same thing. – user5341 Oct 5 '15 at 18:29
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    @Flimzy - I don't think this is a duplicate. It's only a duplicate if there's proof that the only possible mechanism for this is via coldness (moreover, it's the draft part that's critical - e.g. it's considered more dangerous to have a 72 degree draft in hot room than 62 degree ambient room temp). – user5341 Oct 5 '15 at 18:31
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    (…) And when researching this topic, I read in some reports (example in German) the claim that the reason draughts would make ill is especially because the body does not get cold enough (so that the body would not start fighting against the cold). -- So maybe the same answers from the marked-as-duplicate question apply here, but I think we can’t know unless there’s proof for the (possible) connection (draughts → cold) and unless there’s proof that nothing else is involved with draughts, maybe unrelated to temperature. – unor Oct 9 '15 at 3:51
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    I am open to re-opening this question if you can make it uniquely distinct, that wouldn't have the same answers that the linked question would generate. Sometimes the question may be different, but the answer is the same. – Larian LeQuella Oct 12 '15 at 2:37
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    Yeah, came here because somebody on the History stack exchange was actually arguing that drafts were the cause of a blocked neck. This question is very distinct from the 'does being cold increase the chance of a catching a cold' question. Temperature is irrelevant. – kbelder Sep 22 '16 at 19:05

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