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Top 10 Best Ways to Stop the Common Cold and Flu

Patty has advanced degrees in preventive medicine and health psychology, with 35 years of work in allergy and other autoimmune treatment.

Stop the Devilish Viruses

If I ever feel that I have been exposed to cold viruses, I eat something spicy, because the oils, or the chemical capsaicin from the spice in hot peppers, fill up the areas of my cell membranes in which viruses inject their genetic material that makes us sick. Many viruses look like a Lunar Lander and have a barb that sticks into one of our cells through a "dent"-like area. The oils and capsaicin of spices and other foods block the barb.

Closeup of an evil virus.

Closeup of an evil virus.

The foods that work include hot peppers of any kind - fresh or ground, onions, garlic, fresh ginger, pickled ginger, horseradish, kimchee, and similar foods. Hot spicy shrimp eliminated my symptoms once in just 45 minutes. because of this, about 20 years ago, I increased my daily intake of all these kinds of foods with good results: many fewer colds.

There are over 200 separate viruses responsible for what we call "the common cold" and after we have suffered form each virus, some physicians feel that most of us are immune to each one. As with all rules and generalizations, though, this does not hold for everyone and all diseases do not affect different individuals the same way. The rhinovirus causes a lot of colds, and we may not be able to development much of a resistance to that one.

Take the measles - I had the three-day measles 7 times before I developed full immunity to them (twice as an adult).

The only time I become ill is sometimes when I experience a puff of dirt and dust in the face while cleaning, or during some other event. Otherwise, I do not catch colds. Here are the reasons for this, in my opinion:

Close-up of a rhinovirus

Close-up of a rhinovirus

Emergency! -- Call Your Doctor if You Have

  • A fever of over 100 degrees F.
  • High fever with body aches or headache and fatigue.
  • High fever with sweating, chills, coughing, and yellow or green phlegm
  • Symptoms that longer than 10 days or that steadily get worse over 3-5 days.

Try the Top 10 Cold Preventatives

1) I grew up around a lot of cigarette smoke that caused cilia paralysis in the breathing passages and resulted in the inability to expel dust and bacteria regularly. I caught a new cold every three weeks. I contracted pneumonia at age seven with a fever of 106.5°F before being rushed to the hospital. As an adult, I worked in health psychology to help people stop smoking and become healthier.

2) I also had a substantial amount of survival and martial arts training outdoors in cold weather climates as an adult and this increased my health as well. Any kind of regular exercise helps to maintain health and avoid colds.

My training saved my life in many ways. One terrible winter, my car broke down in -75° F and the outdoors felt like a dead planet. No one would stop to help me, so I walked about 1/3 mile to a gas station and received help. Happily, I did not become ill and went on to avoid colds for several years. Exercise of many kinds can contribute to health, including avoiding colds and flu.

Smoking disrupts your immune system. This raises your risk of catching the cold and other viruses. Inhaling tobacco smoke also exposes you to toxic chemicals that can irritate your throat lining. Symptoms of the common cold can be worse if you smoke.



3) During the winter, I keep the thermostat low, especially for sleeping. Cool temperatures can help ward off colds - under 65 degrees F. I also use a vaporizer because germs take hold when your mucous membranes become dry (eyes, nose, throat, etc.). Eye drops or artificial tears help in the winter as well. I drink lots of liquids all year round to wash out toxins.

4) I wash my hands before and after using keyboards, working with children, preparing and eating meals, taking out the trash, and doing laundry.

5) When I wash dishes, I use hot water, put a small amount of bleach in the dishwater as a germ killer, and dry the dishes in the open air in a clean dish drainer. Kitchen sponges and scrubbers are washed and placed in the microwave for about 30 seconds to sanitize them as well. These are also replaced often.

6) I wash my bathroom down with a bleach once a week.

7) I vacuum the furniture and mattress as well as the carpeting, to get rid of more dust and dust mites (they cause allergies).

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Relax and de-stress regularly.

Relax and de-stress regularly.

8) I keep a positive, proactive attitude, which boosts the immune system.

9) When I find myself in stressful conditions or relationships that are unreasonable, I extricate myself from them. Stress of this or any type can lead to illness.

10) I learned a variety of relaxation tips while doing counseling and therapy, and they work. Relaxation boosts the immune system.

Community, diversity, mutual support,, cultural competency.

Community, diversity, mutual support,, cultural competency.

Diversity and Cultural Competency

Accept diversity that is growing in your community and make friends within it. Mutual support and friendship can go a long way toward strengthening the human immune system. This has been accepted since the 1980s in the U.S.

Cultural respect and competency in healthcare is a mandatory consideration in most of America in the 21st century, and religious traditions make up a large part of that. Whether we believe them or not, they enter into our patients' recoveries.

They also factor into preventing diseases like the common cold and flu.


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cultural Competence. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  • Georgetown University. Cultural Competence in Healthcare; 2004. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  • Peart, K.N. Study shows why cigarette smoke makes flu, other viral infections worse. Yale News. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  • Sohbani, M.E.; Immune modulation in response to stress and relaxation. Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences. 2011 Mar 15;14(6):363-74.U.S. Retrieved October 16, 2018.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS

Comments and Experiences

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 30, 2011:

People are coughing and sneezing around town, so it's time to get back to prevention for colds.

mirza shahzad from Germany on October 17, 2011:

Very Interesting Article

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 06, 2011:

Thank you all for adding your comments and additional tips and information. Hopefully, fewer of us and our readers will have colds this fall and winter season!

elucidator from SoCal on October 06, 2011:

I don't get sick often and I see some of your suggestions as some of the things that I do. I know I love it cold when I sleep - glad that helps! I must say I am an advocate of "Airborne" I don't know if any of it is psychosomatic, but when I do feel like I'm coming down with chest congestion, it seems to help stop it early. Nope, not a stock holder, it just works for me! Very good article. Thank you.

Renee on October 06, 2011:

Thanks Patty for this great hub. Though I have been reading your hubs this is the first time I get to comment, my bad. I love spicy food and in my experience it really helps relieve stuffy nose. Also, I haven't thought of martial arts training out in the cold but I encouraged my son to take up swimming to make his lungs stronger since he had asthma attacks and has allergic rhinitis. Since then he hasn't had any attacks...he even plays soccer these days. And yes, good hand hygiene is still the best prevention for almost all diseases. Will eat more spicy, i think the spicier the better. Thanks again for the other suggestions.

cameciob on October 06, 2011:

Patty, I have a bad cold right now ...I don't think it will be late to start a spicy diet. As for the stress...I'm pretty sure the stress at work contributed a lot.

You have good info here and think I should share it with my friends.

Alexander Thandi Ubani from Lagos on October 06, 2011:

A truly refreshing, informative and helpful hub. Well written too and classy. Awesome!

daniellehorgan on October 06, 2011:

These are all great tips! So many people around me at work and home have colds at the moment, I'll have to be really careful! I have always noticed that it is when I let myself get too stressed out that I catch it, so I'm keeping happy and laid back! Voted up and useful!

jenubouka on October 06, 2011:

Great info here, I really liked the fact how a positive outlook can help.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 06, 2011:

Dr. Oz screens some very good segments on his show.

I also use cleaning disinfectant wipes on library computers before i use them! That seems to prevent scratchy throats for me.

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on October 06, 2011:

Thanks Patty! I usually get one cold a year, but I go with stress theory for lowered immune system with that 'one.' I learned on the Dr. Oz show this week that a sneeze travels 14 feet. Hmmmmmmmm Plus I leaned the correct way to cover when sneezing. Now, I have more ammunition from this wonderful hub on strengthening the immune system. Awesome! Maybe I won't visit that 'one' cold this year.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 06, 2011:

It's been 8 years since I had a cold at this point. The spices work best for me.

Carrie on February 08, 2010:

Interesting! I've done the same thing-- eat a VERY spicy dish every time I've been exposed to a cold virus. As spicy as I can tolerate, usually a soup with habanero. I haven't had a cold in at least 6 years. My fiancé experiences them often-- while in the same house, same shower and same bed as me. Subsequently, he has started this practice as well and finds they cut a cold's duration from up to 2 weeks to 3 or 4 days.

Dr Nancy Malik from Gurgaon, India on May 18, 2009:

Homeopathy for cold

Lgali on December 02, 2008:

I find washing hands helps lot

Rick on February 15, 2008:

I drink olive leaf tea daily for general health and well being. It is supposed to help boost the immune system.

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