7 Ways You Can Avoid Getting A Cold
With the onset of cold and flu season, many of us look for ways to avoid a runny nose, sore throat and aches that come with a cold. From washing your hands to taking time to de-stress, here’s how you can easily prevent it.
A study by the National Centre for Disease Control, India, found that the average Indian experiences a common cold at least twice a year. The common cold is a self-limiting contagious disease, which means that it is typically spread from one infected person to another through close physical contact or air. A complete medical cure for the cold still remains elusive in the 21st century, as there are over one hundred varieties of the cold-causing rhinovirus.
Research conducted by the National Institute of Virology shows that across the Indo-Gangetic heartland and the west coast, meaning cities like New Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata, Pune and others, common cold and flu season peaks around July to October. Though a common cold goes away in a fortnight with proper treatment (drinking enough fluids, resting and taking cough syrups) being sick with a runny nose, a sore throat, tiredness and body aches is never an enjoyable experience. Especially in the wake of COVID-19 which has similar symptoms, the best cure for the cold right now is prevention.
How to Avoid Catching A Cold
1. Don’t touch your face before washing your hands.
Cold-causing viruses can survive on surfaces like pens, door handles, table-tops, faucets and phones for over 24 hours. Your fingertips pick up the virus, from where it gets inside your body when you rub your eyes, nose or mouth. Since it is hard to remember not to touch your face, which you do almost involuntarily, a more practical way of preventing contamination would be to clean your hands with soap or an alcohol-based sanitiser frequently.
2. Get sufficient Vitamin D
In a National Health and Nutrition survey conducted in the United States, it was discovered that Vitamin D deficiency makes people more prone to getting respiratory tract infections. Vitamin D also plays a vital role in boosting the immunity system. In India, getting enough sunlight is an easy fix for our bodies to synthesise Vitamin D, yet 70% of Indians are suffering from a deficiency. You can get additional Vitamin D from egg yolks, mushrooms, oily fishes like salmon, cod liver oil, and multivitamin supplements.
3. Take time to relax.
Cortisol is the hormone that helps the body to fight inflammation and disease. In situations of excess stress, cortisol is constantly pumped out which reduces the hormone’s overall effectiveness and thus weakens your immunity system. Find an effective way to wind down from situations of personal stress. Try yoga, meditation, or a relaxing hobby for long-term benefits.
4. Get enough restful sleep.
There is increasing evidence of the connection between sleep and your body’s immunity system. In an experiment conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, it was found that people who do not get sufficient sleep are three times more likely to catch a cold than those who do. On top of this, the better the quality of sleep, the less prone you are to a cold. The recommended amount of sleep for healthy adults is seven to nine hours daily.
5. Exercise regularly.
Regular exercise has been linked to the improved circulation of disease-fighting white blood cells (WBCs) in our bodies. Exercise also helps to reduce stress and thus prevents the excess release of cortisol, and this keeps infection at bay.
6. Eat foods that contain phytochemicals.
“Phyto” means plant, and phytochemicals are chemical compounds present in plants that have numerous health benefits. Although research is still ongoing, consumption of dark green, yellow and red vegetables and fruits has been connected to increased immunity against infection. Eat foods like broccoli, berries, carrots, spinach and pears in order to keep your body supercharged.
7. Keep personal items separate.
It is very easy to contract the cold virus from an infected person in your family if you do not clean your personal belongings regularly. Since the symptoms show up only two to three days after exposure, and the virus itself survives on surfaces for 24 hours, personal belongings like toothbrushes, towels, combs and drinking glasses can easily spread the virus. Clean such personal items regularly in soapy water, or keep yours separate in order to avoid catching the cold.