When researchers expose healthy people to cold viruses, 85 to 90 percent become infected, but only about half will develop cold symptoms. So why do some get sick and others don’t?
Interestingly, a weak immune system doesn’t have anything to do with you getting a cold. Healthy people catch colds, too. Age and time of year can increase your chances of getting a cold. However, we don’t have much control over these. Ways to improve your chances of preventing colds include:
- Wash your hands. Make sure to wash your hands often and thoroughly especially, when around others that have colds.
- Have a positive personality. Positive people were not as likely to get a cold or the flu and those who did reported milder symptoms.
- Avoid stress. Stress lasting a month or more, increased the risk of developing a cold by as much as five times.
- Get seven hours of sleep. Those who slept at least seven hours or more were less likely to develop colds. Getting less than seven hours of sleep increased the risk of developing a cold by three times.
- Be physically active. The more people exercised during the fall and winter, the fewer colds, headaches, and fevers they got. If they did get ill, their symptoms were milder.
- Keep items clean. Clean and sanitize your kitchen and bathroom countertops. Periodically, wash your children’s toys
If you do develop a cold most symptoms will clear up in four to seven days, whether you have treatment or not. For babies and young children, you may want to consult your doctor on how to treat a cold. In most cases no doctor visits are necessary. Over-the-counter cold medications don’t cure a cold or send it packing. Many medications have side effects, so check them out carefully before you take one.
Home remedies that may make you feel more comfortable include:
- Drink lots of fluids.
- Get extra rest.
- Keep your room temperature warm and humid. However, it’s important not to overheat the room. If you do use a humidifier, make sure you clean it regularly to prevent bacteria growth.
- The use of nasal saline drops may help.
- Eat some chicken soup. It can help relieve cold and flu symptoms.
- Gargle with saltwater to soothe your throat.
Here’s to hoping that the cold and flu germs stay far away from all of us. Now is the time to wash our hands often, clean the countertops, be physically active, get 7 hours of sleep, stay positive and try to avoid stress. Hopefully, these tips will work.
Written by: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension
Reviewed by: Cheryl Barber Spires, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension
Mayo Clinic Staff . Common Cold, Available online at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/common-cold/DS00056/METHOD=print&DSECTION=all
Schardt, David. . “ Achoo! How to Avoid Catching a Cold” Nutrition Action Health Letter, March 2011 p. 8-9.