Fall is right around the corner, and right along with the color-changing leaves and sweater weather will come another one fall’s most notable features: The common cold and all the viruses that cause them. There are plenty of ways to catch a cold – not dressing weather appropriate, not following proper hygiene regimens and hanging around already-sick people to name a few – but how can you prevent the annoying coughing, sneezing and runny nose that seems to come with the changing season every year?
Check out our guide featuring some of the best common cold prevention methods that may keep you from being the one spreading germs in the office when fall hits on Sept. 22.
Proper sleep is key: Humans are exposed to viruses on a daily basis, however it’s our immune strength that determines how quickly or how often those viruses cause us to get sick. A study conducted by a team of psychologists and researchers at the University of California, San Francisco proved exactly how beneficial a good night’s sleep could be for cold prevention. The test, during which 164 healthy men and women were given a live common cold virus then quarantined and watched for a week, proved individuals who were sleeping the least were substantially more likely to develop a cold. Adults who averaged five or six hours of sleep a night were four times more likely to catch a cold than people who slept at least seven hours per night. About 39 percent of those who slept less than six hours got sick while only 18 percent of folks snoozing for at least six hours or more got sick.
Wash your hands thoroughly: The Center for Disease Control describes handwashing as a “do-it-yourself vaccine.” Something as simple as a 20-second scrub of the hands with antibacterial soap can prevent the spread of more than just germs that cause common colds, but it also helps reduce to spread of diarrheal and respiratory illness too.
Keep household surfaces clean: Just like handwashing, keeping surfaces in your home or office area are just as important. Virus-causing germs have a knack for sticking to door knobs, drawer pulls, keyboards, light switches, remote controls, countertops and sinks. They can also infect people touching said sufaces for hours before showing symptoms. Keeping commonly touched areas and items clean can go a long way in the transport of viruses.
Don’t forget the chicken soup: Soup isn’t just a cold weather comforter, it’s actually a proven cold defense. Viruses prefer to live in dry, cooler areas of the body, whereas soup raises the temperature in your nose and throat, making it harder for germs to stick around. Only adding to soup’s benefits, a study conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center found soup – vegetarian or not – inhibits white blood cells called neutrophils that get released by the masses when you have a cold. These particular white cells play an essential role in clearing congestion that’s often caused by the common cold.
Know your symptoms: The first (and maybe most important) thing to do when you have a cold is to properly identify your symptoms. If you know your symptoms then you can address them properly and pick the right type of cold medicine to help fight the virus. There are a large variety of on-the-shelf cold remedies, however, choosing the right one that fits your symptoms will put you on the fast track back to good health.