Stop a common cold before it shuts you down

5 ways to stop a cold in its tracks

How you can keep the common cold at bay
December 1, 2016

A common cold could really put a damper in your week, and while there is never a good time for an ailment, there certainly are worse times—such as before a big presentation or vacation. Lucky for you and your facial tissues, we have tips to keep the pesky ailment away.

Keep yourself hydrated to keep your immune system running efficiently

Hydrate

Water is the substance of life, and if you’re battling the elements for any period of time, chances are you need to rehydrate. Without water, your body won’t be able to fend off viral invaders—making you more susceptible to the common cold.

It’s very important to stay hydrated throughout the day, and don’t just drink when you’re thirsty. If you are thirsty, chances are you’re already mildly dehydrated.

Keep your body recharged to fight off viruses

Don’t skimp on sleep

Just like keeping your body hydrated is important, letting your body rest and recharge can keep your immune system working at peak efficiency. Nearly 40 percent of adults report falling asleep during the day without meaning to at least once a month, and this can often be attributed to bad sleep habits.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends to get at least seven to eight hours of shut eye per night. And the easiest way to do this? Set a routine, keep your bedroom dark and avoid heavy meals several hours before bedtime. Also, avoid watching TV or your phone or laptop screen an hour before bedtime as this can have a detrimental impact on sleep.

Vitamins can give your immune system a boost

Take a vitamin

Many people will take a multivitamin when the seasons change, and this is mainly to give the immune system a boost. The three major anti-oxidizing nutrients—beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E—should be on your plate or in your multivitamin to help your body fight off unwanted invaders. These nutrients are commonly found in fruits and vegetables.

Studies have also suggested that taking zinc regularly might reduce the number of colds each year and possibly reduce the length of a cold by one day. Other research has suggested that natural supplements, such as Echinacea and elderberry, may possibly prevent a cold from starting. Talk to your health care provider to see if a multivitamin or natural supplement is the health boost you need.

Stress can take a lasting toll on your body

De-stress

Stress can take a real toll on the body and your mind. While many people will associate stress with mental fatigue, chronic stress can wear out your immune system and leave you vulnerable to illness. Stress can also lead to irregular eating patterns and interfere with your sleep patterns, both of which can compromise your immune system.

Studies have also shown that exposure to even mild periods of stress and anxiety can lower your life expectancy.

Washing your hands properly can keep illnesses away

Practice preventive care

Washing your hands is one of the simplest and most important ways to avoid getting a cold or the flu. Germs are on all surfaces, from door knobs to elevator buttons, and you may be exposing your body to those microbes if you rub your eyes or bite your nails without proper hand washing.

Washing your hands with soap and water should always be your go-to over antibacterial hand sanitizer because soap and water is more effective at removing bacteria. (Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are okay use in a pinch when you don’t have access to soap and water.)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following is best practice for washing your hands:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

— Dominic Hernandez

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