5 Ways to Prevent a Cold

5 Ways to Prevent a Cold

When the leaves start to change their colors and fall from the trees it’s a signal things are moving toward winter. Time to trade in your sandals for shoes; time to bring out the hats and scarves (at least for those of us not lucky enough to live in the more temperate climates of the south). And it’s also the time to make sure you are well stocked with tissues; we tend to get more colds in the colder winter months than in the warmer ones. Why? One likely explanation: we are indoors more often in poorly-ventilated areas during the winter, and this atmosphere is much friendlier to airborne viruses, playing a willing host to their transmission. And respiratory viruses (including the ones that cause the flu) are highly contagious, surviving – and being transmitted – for long periods of time via furniture, doorknobs, and innocent handshakes.

But the jury is out, and no one seems to be able to prove – beyond a reasonable doubt – that this is the case. Some scientists place the blame on psychological stress. They say that wintertime blues, caused by decreased sunlight and freezing cold temperatures, can cause depression, which in turn lowers the immune system’s response, making it more difficult to fight off the cold germ. Others contend that while a summer cold is often as “sinusitis,” a winter cold is seen as more “serious,” and defined as such.

The bad news is that there are no known cures for colds. But the good news is that there are ways toward preventing one. Short of becoming a hermit, refusing to greet people with a handshake, or living outdoors no matter how cold it may get, here’s a simple list of 5 Ways to Prevent a Cold:

  1. Lather Up. Good hand washing goes a long way to preventing the spread of germs. Whether it be alcohol-based gels, antibacterial soaps or just plain soap and water, being vigilant with your hand washing – especially during cold and flu season – could mean the difference between being laid up with a cold and remaining germ-free. Remember, your hands can pick up germs not just from other people, but from things like phone receivers and keyboards, where germs can survive for hours or sometimes longer.
  2. Don’t touch your face. The eyes, nose or mouth make perfect receptacles for cold and flu viruses
  3. Don’t use your hands to cover sneezes and coughs. Instead, grab a tissue or cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow. Germs and viruses can cling to your bare hands, resulting in you innocently passing along your germs to other people.
  4. Eat healthfully. To keep your immune system balanced and running at its best, include high-quality protein like fish, lean meats and beans; brightly colored fruits and vegetables and plenty of omega-3 rich foods like fatty fish (such as salmon, herring or tuna), walnuts and flaxseed.
  5. Don’t skimp on sleep. Research has found that people who get less than seven hours of sleep were about three times more likely to get a cold than people who slept hours or more hours per night. And the quality of your sleep matters, too: tossing and turning increases your risk of catching a cold more than it does for a sound sleeper.

You can manage your health. Use these five steps to prevent colds.