It’s that time of year again. Suddenly there’s sneezes and coughs everywhere you turn. Follow these simple steps and you may lower your chances of picking up a nasty cold.
1. Wash your hands frequently. Cold and flu viruses need to get from nose to nose. They’re passed around in mucus, sometimes from coughs and sneezes but also via hand contact. If you have a cold and virus-infected mucus gets onto your fingers, and you then touch a door handle, you leave the germs on it. When another person comes along and touches the handle, they pick up the virus on their hands. If they then touch their nose or eye, the virus is transferred to them. So washing your hands is the best way to lower your risk.
2. Keep warm – especially your nose. Colds are seasonal – there are more around in the winter and that’s probably because our noses get cold. This may sound strange but studies show that if your nose gets cold, any infection you may be harbouring can be triggered and start causing symptoms. So wrap up warm and hold a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth on cold days.
3. Look after yourself. Lack of sleep, stress and poor diet all compromise your immune system and put you at higher risk of a cold. So make good sleep a priority and take steps to deal with stress. Make sure you eat a balanced diet, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
4. Top up with the sunshine vitamin. There’s evidence to show most of us are short of vitamin D during the winter months. The evidence showing supplementing with vitamin D helps prevent colds is fairly weak but it might help and won’t do any harm.
5. Try herbs. There’s evidence Echinacea may help prevent colds. If you’ve taken a herb before and found it helped you avoid a cold that was going around, it’s probably a good idea to stick with it.
6. Try a preventative nasal spray. You can buy sprays containing carrageenan, a seaweed extract, which can inactivate the virus, but only if you use it within 24 to 48 hours of symptoms starting.