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How to Avoid the Common Cold

Young girl with a cold

As winter quickly approaches, it is becoming increasingly important to spread awareness of the most effective common cold prevention methods. It is true that some of these are fairly intuitive to many people. However, the fact that they are so often ignored drives home the point that these four strategies need to be reinforced.

1.   Wash your Hands
-This is likely both the most obvious and most important cold prevention strategy. Medical experts have recommended that people frequently wash their hands with soap and water for generations. Furthermore, in cases that soap and water are not available, they advise to use an alcohol based sanitizer.

2.   Don’t Touch your Face
-One means of preventing colds that is a bit less well known is refraining from touching your mouth, eyes, or nose with your hands. This is especially true if you have not washed them recently. Forgetting this piece of advice can lead to the direct transmission of harmful bacteria and viruses including the rhinovirus which causes colds.

3.   Avoid Contact with the Infected
-This is fairly common knowledge. However, it can be easier said than done. In practice, many people will not follow this guideline in an effort to be polite. While it is true that doing so can occasionally lead to some awkward situations, it is important to remember that in addition to your own well-being, you can put others at risk if you contract an infectious disease.

4.   Get Enough Sleep
-This final piece of advice is not necessarily intuitive. However, researchers have found that sleep deprivation has been linked to a diminished ability to fight off an infection. This is because the immune system produces proteins called cytokines while we sleep. These are instrumental in the regulation of both inane and adaptive immune responses. So whenever possible, try and get a good night’s rest.

In all, the steps we can take to minimize the risk are fairly simple. Yet the realities of daily life often encourage us to periodically cut corners. However, it is important to remind ourselves that catching a cold is not only a personal inconvenience, but also puts others in jeopardy of an infection. Those with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Therefore, it is important for all of us to take these guidelines to heart and spread awareness this winter. 

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