January 31, 2008
Cold and flu season seems to be upon us. Everywhere you look there are people sneezing, wheezing or looking downright miserable thanks to a stuffy nose, sore throat or heavy head -- and there seems no way of escaping it. However, if you are determined to keep the common cold at bay, try these seven easy-to-do steps.
The hands-off approach: According to the health portal commoncold.org, the cold virus resides in the nose and is most contagious during the first three days of a cold. So, if you have a cold, try not to use your hands to shield a sneeze or cough. The nasal secretions will transfer the virus to your hands and then on to everything else you touch.
If you haven't yet fallen prey to the cold virus, the first thing to do keep your hands clean. For most of us, at work, at home or outdoors, it's impossible to keep your hands as clean as they could possibly be. The best thing to do is avoid touching your nose, mouth and face.
The cold virus can be transferred even from brief contact with a person suffering from a cold or a contaminated surface, so try wash your hands as often as you can or buy a hand sanitiser available at almost all medical stores.
Liquids: Mayoclinic.com recommends you ensure your liquid intake is high. Whether in the form of water, juices or soups, the fluids will help flush out the toxins in your system and keep illness at bay.
Air it out: For most city-dwellers, air conditioned offices and homes are inescapable. While this modern convenience is no doubt a blessing, it can also be a Pandora's box of illnesses. Thanks to the recirculated air, germs tend to reside in air-ducts with no place to go. If colds and coughs seem to be afflicting colleagues or relatives constantly, get your the ducts cleaned professionally and open the windows to let in some fresh air in. Health portal webmd.com recommends getting a regular dose of fresh air particularly during winter.
Work it out: The internet abounds with studies and articles that demonstrate the benefits of regular exercise to the human immune system. Even 20 minutes of aerobics or moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days a week can make a world of difference to your body's energy levels and immunity.
Get a vitamin boost: Studies have found that a regular intake of vitamins, particularly vitamin C, boosts the immune system. If you're not the pill-popping type, load up the natural way with plenty of green leafy vegetables, the red and yellow variety help too.
Cut down on smoking and drinking: According to webmd.com, statistics show that heavy smokers are more prone to colds and suffer more severe bouts.
Heavy alcohol consumption dries out the body, taking away valuable fluids. This again makes you susceptible to the cold virus. So, if you can't kick the habit completely, make sure to cut down your consumption to improve your chances of staving off cold.
Relax: Stress impacts your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections and illnesses, says most research on the subject. While it is easier said than done, there are methods by which you can teach yourself calming techniques, the most popular of which is yoga. Practice these techniques regularly to keep your mind and body in peak condition.