You know that familiar feeling — a tickle in your throat, pressure around your nose, a flurry of sneezes cropping up. It’s a sign that a cold is coming on, and it can pop up at any time of the year, not just during winter. Once you have a cold, a few days of rest and some bowls of chicken soup can help ease the symptoms while they’re in full force. However, keeping yourself from getting sick in the first place is an even better tactic to stay feeling great all year round. Fortunately, there are some helpful habits you can start trying today. Add these common cold prevention tips into your daily routine to banish the coughing and congestion before they get a chance to start.
How to prevent a common cold Tip #1: Wash early and wash often
One of the most important things you can do for preventing the common cold is to wash your hands frequently, especially during spring and winter when the virus affects more people.
About 80% of infectious diseases are spread by people touching surfaces that are contaminated with germs Think of the different things you touch during the day — doorknobs, keyboards and even other people’s hands. These things all have the potential to carry cold germs. Once you touch the surfaces and then touch your mouth, eyes or nose, you can infect yourself with the virus. Stop the spread of these germs by practicing effective handwashing. Here’s how:
• Wet your hands with warm water.
• Apply soap to your hands and rub them together to create a thick lather.
• Don’t just wash your palms — soap up your fingers, the backs of your hands and your fingernails.
• Scrub for at least 20 seconds or longer.
• Rinse the soap off your hands with running water, and dry them with a clean towel.
How to prevent a common cold Tip #2: Get enough sleep
Sleep is essential for keeping us feeling our best when we’re not sick, but it’s even more important when our bodies need to heal. If you get poor-quality sleep or not enough of it, it’s more likely that you’ll develop a cold. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. If you have trouble getting to bed, create some new sleep habits to improve your rest. Stop using electronic devices and watching TV at least an hour or so before bedtime. Make sure your bedroom is dark; install blackout curtains if strong ambient light comes through your windows at night.
You can also work on preventing the common cold by changing what you consume. Stimulants like caffeine and nicotine can keep you awake for hours, and drinking alcohol before bed can also disrupt your sleep cycles. Keep your evening meal a little smaller, too, and you’ll be well on your way to getting restorative sleep that helps your immune system resist the common cold.
How to prevent a common cold Tip #3: Work it out
Your body, that is. Regular activity can boost your immune system just like great sleep does. When you get active, your circulation improves, meaning that your blood flows better throughout your body. It also means that immune cells travel better and farther around your body, which helps them find and eliminate illnesses before they get a chance to spread. Just 2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week are enough to enjoy the immune-boosting benefits your body needs to stay healthy and cold-free.
With these tips in mind, you’re well on your way to stopping a cold before it starts. Learn even more about preventing the common cold by giving us a call at 513-952-5000 or visiting mercy.com to make an appointment with your primary care doctor.