Health, Mind & Body

  • img1

Stop colds before they start

The stuffy nose, aches and pains that often accompany the common cold can leave sufferers feeling miserable for a week or more. Cold season seems to kick into high gear when the temperatures drop, but this can be the year you don't come down with a case of the sniffles. The following cold prevention tips can increase your chances of making it to spring without losing any days or sleep to the common cold.

• Keep kids clean. School-aged kids tend to carry home lots of germs, so when kids get home after a long day at school, make sure they wash their hands thoroughly and change into fresh outfits. Such precautionary measures can keep colds and other illnesses from running rampant through your house.

• Go outdoors and get some fresh air. It's a myth that cold air will bring on a cold. In reality, being outside instead of congregating indoors with other sick people may decrease your risk of getting a cold. Don't be afraid to go outside when the temperatures drop for fear of getting sick. Fresh air and exercise can be good for you.

• Drink plenty of fluids. Keeping your body hydrated will help flush toxins out of your body, strengthening your immune system and making it more capable of fending off colds.

• Keep your distance. Did you know the cold virus can be shot up to three feet away when someone sneezes? The virus travels on the small droplets of saliva and mucus that get propelled from the nose and mouth of a sick individual. If you know someone is sick, stay as far away as possible and wash your hands frequently, paying special attention to your fingertips.

• Wipe down surfaces. The cold virus can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours. That means a sick person can easily transfer a virus by touching a computer keyboard or remote control he or she shares with others. Use disinfecting wipes or warm, soapy water to clean off doorknobs, telephones, light switches, cabinet handles, and anything that is frequently touched around a home or business.

• Let it out gently. Blowing your nose forcefully or pinching your nose to hold back sneezes can irritate nasal passageways and make them more vulnerable to infection.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you are well, keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes. Viruses are especially good at entering the body through the mucus membranes located in these areas of the body. A combination of frequent handwashing and avoiding touching your face can keep colds at bay.

• Maintain your exercise routine. Regular exercise can boost the body's immune system and help it to fend off foreign invaders, including the cold virus. A recent study found that taking vitamin C in addition to daily exercise can reduce your risk of cold and cut the duration of the cold should you get one. Before taking any supplements, speak with your doctor to make sure they won't interact negatively with other medications.

• Recognize that antibiotics are not the answer. Antibiotics are only effective at treating bacterial infections, not viruses, which means they are ineffective at fighting the cold virus.

• If you do get sick, play it smart. Should you succumb to a cold in spite of your best efforts, steer clear of others so you are not spreading the virus. Rest and fuel your body with healthy foods and beverages. There's no need to visit a doctor for a cold unless you have a fever after several days of being sick. Colds normally last between seven and 10 days. If your symptoms do not improve or if they seem to be worsening, visit your doctor.