The sore throat. Pounding headache. Non-stop runny nose. Chills and body aches. Colds can make you feel downright awful. Millions of people get colds every year, with most cases occurring in the winter. While most sufferers will recover within 7-10 days, a cold is nothing to sneeze at. Some people, especially those with weakened immune systems, can develop complications such as bronchitis, ear and sinus infections, and pneumonia. The common cold is a fact of life, but there are some things you can do to help lower your risk of catching one. Here are some tips:
Tips to Avoid Colds
- Wash your hands – Since cold-causing viruses can live on your hands, frequently washing your hands can help reduce your chances of getting sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. If soap and water are not available you can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Clean up – Germs harbor on everything from keyboards and doorknobs to remote controls, light switches and faucets. Stock up on antibacterial wipes and be vigilant about cleaning areas that could be contaminated with cold viruses.
- Avoid touching your face – People unknowingly touch their faces all the time. Try to avoid doing so as viruses that cause the common cold can easily enter your body through the nose, mouth and eyes.
- Boost vitamin intake – High doses of vitamins C, B6, D, and E, as well as the mineral zinc have been shown to boost the body’s immune system. A strong immune system can help prevent you from catching a cold and/or shorten the duration of symptoms.
- Get enough shut-eye – Sleep deprivation can compromise your body’s immune system, so try to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. A study conducted by the University of California San Francisco showed that chronic poor sleepers became sick more often. The amount of sleep was a stronger factor than age, stress or income level in predicting who would get sick.
- Exercise – It’s all about that immune system again! Among the many benefits of regular aerobic exercise is that it can strengthen the body’s immune function which can reduce your risk of catching a cold. An Appalachian State University study showed that people who exercised five or more days per week spent about 40 percent fewer days with upper-respiratory infections than those who were less physically active.
- Quit smoking – Need yet another reason to nix the nicotine? Smokers get more colds. Smoking dries out your nasal passages and affects the cilia – the tiny hairs in your nose that are the first line of defense in preventing viruses from entering through the nasal cavity. Weak cilia are an invitation for infection.
Adults get an average of 2-3 colds a year. Hopefully by taking these precautions, you’ll be able to ward off the germs this winter and minimize your chances of getting sick.