Nobody likes getting a cold. A runny nose, a sore throat, and constantly being tired are annoyances no one wants to deal with. But while there is no cure for a common cold, are there ways to prevent them? Below are five strategies for keeping yourself healthy and cold-free.
Get enough sleep
Your immune system functions best when you are well rested. If you don’t regularly get enough sleep – less than seven hours a night – your immune system might not be able to fight off common infections.
“When I feel a cold coming on, I go to bed early,” CEENTA Otolaryngologist Roy Lewis, MD, said. “I totally believe in the healing power of sleep.”
A number of foods can boost your immune system and keep you healthy. Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna, can help reduce harmful inflammation in the body that prevents your immune system from working properly. Ginger is also known to have anti-inflammatory qualities and can also kill the viruses that cause colds. Fruits, vegetables, and other foods with high vitamin content can boost your immune system. Probiotic foods such as yogurt can replenish healthy strains of bacteria, which help prevent stomach illnesses and may lower the risk of upper respiratory tract infections.
Keep the air humid
Some studies have shown that humidity can kill viruses, so running a humidifier can be a good idea. But remember to not turn the humidity up too high. Humidity is good for mold, which can lead to allergies.
Keep your nasal passages lubricated
Saline sprays add moisture to your nasal passages, which helps your nose flush out viruses. If your nasal passages are dry, it’s much harder for your nose to flush out these foreign bodies.
Cover your cough and wash your hands
Cold viruses spread by direct contact with respiratory droplets, and can be transmitted easily. For example, if someone is in the grocery store and they sneeze or cough, the viruses can be spread to an item like the shopping cart. Then, if someone touches that cart and then touches their face, they have spread the virus. That’s why Dr. Lewis says he tries to avoid touching his face in the grocery store or office.
“Colds are highly contagious and can really sideline an entire family when one member becomes ill,” Dr. Lewis said. “It is important to follow these steps, but you must remember that you are not going to be able to avoid all illnesses all the time. Simple early treatment can help to speed you back to health.”
If you do catch a cold, it is recommended you see a doctor if you are not showing some improvement after 4-5 days with conservative medical measures, Dr. Lewis said.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. To make an appointment with Dr. Lewis, call 704-658-0595. To make an appointment with any of CEENTA’s other ear, nose, and throat doctors, call 704-295-3000.