Simon's background is in biomedical and health science. He also writes about fashion, nature, and photography.
Wash Your Hands Often and Don't Touch Your Face!
I've kept myself from catching a cold for over a hear and a half. This is in part because I wash my hands frequently, especially after the gym and coming home from public places. I don't ever touch my face, or if I need to I wash my hands first. I try to avoid those with colds. More importantly, I try to get regular exercise, eat right, reduce stress, and get enough sleep. These little strategies or tips have kept me from getting sick from a cold.
It has been nearly two years since I have been sick with a cold. That is my record so far. In the past, I've often gotten sick at least once a year. However, since the winter of 2017, I have not had a cold. Here I will give you tips on how to avoid getting sick with a cold this year. Tips that have helped me stay healthy and hopefully help you too!
Colds Are Caused by Viruses
Many viruses (including coronavirus, adenovirus and respiratory syncytial virus) can cause a cold, but in the majority of the cases, rhinoviruses are the main culprit. A cold virus can enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth. These viruses can spread via droplets in the air when a sick person sneezes, coughs, or talks. It may also spread by hand-to-hand contact, sharing contaminated things like utensils, towels, telephones. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth after being exposed to the virus, you might get sick.
Tip #1: Wash Your Hands Often
This is the number one tip to staying healthy. Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and lukewarm water will remove the cold-causing virus from your hands. Wash your hands often. Before you eat, wash them. After you exercise at the gym, wash them. After you come home from any public places, like the library, school, mall, theatre, etc, wash them. If you have to touch your nose, eyes or mouth, wash them first. I repeat wash your hands often.
I use a soap that has moisturizing ingredients like glycerin because I wash my hands so much. That way my hands don't dry out as much.
Tip #2: Don't Touch Your Face
Whatever you do, do not touch your face, particularly your eyes, nose and mouth. If you do, there is a chance that you may have the cold virus on your hand and can transfer it to the openings on your face. If you need to touch your face, for instance because of an itch or to remove debris, wash your hands first before touching your face.
Tip #3: Stay Away From Those With A Cold
If your family or friends have a cold, stay away from them. Sometimes it's hard to separate from family that you live with. Try your best to remove yourself from them. It's important that you do not pick up their virus.
When eating together, don't share food, utensils, glasses or dishes. Set aside separate utensils, dishware and glassware for the sick person. In the bathroom, get them to use their own towel, toothpaste and toothbrush. Set these items away from yours.
Avoid physical contact as viruses may spread via touching. If you shake hands with someone who is sick or come into contact with their face, go wash your hands.
Tip #4: Use Facial Tissue
If you have a family member who is sick, ask them to sneeze or cough into tissues. Then quickly discard the tissues, and tell them to wash their hands. Also, ask them to cough or sneeze into the bend of their elbow, to prevent spreading germs when they don't have a tissue handy.
Tip #5: Exercise
Getting regular exercise will help you stay healthy. Exercising helps contribute to general good health and likely to a healthy immune system. It may help more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows immune cells and substances to "move through the body freely and do their job efficiently." Those of us who exercise regularly, especially those who exercise daily, have fewer colds per year than those who don't exercise.
Tip #6: Reduce Stress
Stress appears to depress the immune system. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is known to reduce inflammation, and decreases white blood cells. Reducing white blood cells can make us susceptible to infections. Thus, it's important to minimize stress. Take time to mediate, do yoga, listen to music, read, do art. Anything to help you calm down and relax.
Tip #6: Eat Healthy
Although evidence linking nutrition to immune function isn't well established, there are studies that show that malnutrition or micronutrient deficiencies are associated with infectious diseases or altered immune responses. Despite conclusive evidence of nutrition playing a role in immunity, it is advisable to maintain a well balanced diet to give your immune system all the nutrients it may need to function well. Make sure you eat your fruits and vegetables!
Tip #7: Get Enough Sleep
Sleep can affect your immune system. Specifically, lack of sleep can lower your immune system. "Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus." Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep!
Want to Learn More?
Common cold. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/symptoms-causes/syc-20351605
Common Cold (Viral Rhinitis). 2014. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/common-cold-viral-rhinitis
How to boost your immune system. 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
Andrew Goliszek Ph.D. How Stress Affects the Immune System. 2014. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/how-the-mind-heals-the-body/201411/how-stress-affects-the-immune-system
Eric J. Olson, M.D. Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick? 2015. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Simon Lam (author) on September 28, 2018:
Thank you for your comment! While soap doesn't kill germs, it helps lift them from your skin so that they can be rinsed/washed away. So it's best to use soap while washing your hands. I'm glad you found this article to be helpful. I wrote it hoping it would be useful for others.
gs on September 28, 2018:
Just finished reading your article on
"How to avoid catching a cold." I didn't realize how important it was to wash your hands regularly. Usually I just wash my hands with warm water after using the bathroom but did not realize you had to use soap to stop the cold virus from spreading. This was a very helpful article and very happy that you wrote about this subject. Take care.
Simon Lam (author) on September 14, 2018:
Thank you for your comment! Yes, staying hydrated is important too! Our cells need water to function! Green tea may also be good in helping the immune system.
Cecil Kenmill from Osaka, Japan on September 13, 2018:
Great advice. There's one thing I didn't see, probably because it's so obvious: HYDRATE! Drink water.