We all get them some days. Ever come to work snivelling to the bone, your eyes are watering and sunken, your throat is sore and lumpy and your nose is blocked? These are some of the common signs of flu that afflict us after we find ourselves exposed to a cold-causing virus. Although it is harmless, it surely does not feel that way since we often struggle to get any work done when we are knee deep in scrunched up tissues. Here is how you can beat colds and stay in the pink of health throughout your year.
Why Do We Get Colds?
The colds that often pull our immunity down are viral infections that target our nose and throat. As adults, the likelihood of us getting colds every other month is low unlike children below the age of six. But we can expect to be struck by the common cold around two or three instances each year. How that usually happens is when our body gets into contact with a cold-causing virus and they are far and many. These viruses spread like wildfire through the air, when we come into close contact with others and even when we handle objects that are contaminated with them. While most colds wouldn’t require a trip to the emergency ward, some of it could morph into something a little serious especially when a high fever is developed or if you feel like you can’t quite catch your breath.
Some of the factors that increase the likelihood of being down with a cold are age, smoking, a weakened immune system and even the season. As a general guideline, those that are below 6 and above the age of 65 are more likely to come under the crossfires of the common flu. Similarly, if you have a weakened immune system or are dealing with long-term illnesses like cancer or HIV, you are going to find the common cold a frequent problem you have to cope with. This should be a no-brainer but smokers would definitely be more vulnerable to contracting colds since the choking smoke could cause your respiratory system to go under from all the harmful nicotine and toxic chemicals.
How Can We Prevent Colds
Like any other illness, these common colds can be prevented to a certain degree with due diligence like ensuring you take care of yourself, wash your hands and get your necessary number of hours. After all, the best cure is prevention.
Get Your 8 Hours Of Rest
Back in university, you must have heard one of these little arguments where your classmates would boast about how little sleep they have gotten the night before. Some would throw alarming numbers like five, four and even three hours but really sleep shouldn’t be trivialised and the lack of sleep below the recommended number of seven isn’t something to boast about. Sleep is critical to how our body functions and scientists have discovered that those who stayed in bed for less than six hours a night on average were 400% more likely to get a cold. A cold is not the only effect of sleep deprivation, it has been found that it drastically increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Going into the thick of things, sleep deprivation or interrupted sleep actually affects our metabolism and it reduces the amount of structural proteins that the body needs to build muscle.
Cut Down And Quit Smoking
Hollywood has turned the act of tobacco smoking into something entirely commonplace. Too often, we see our relatable protagonists puffing on a stick of cigarette. Think Tyler Durden in Fight Club or Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and you might get the idea that smoking is cool and accepted as normality. In reality, the act of smoking is a surefire way to put you in the red. We all know how smokers are at a much higher risk for heart diseases, but smokers also have exaggerated responses when it comes to infections like colds. Researchers ran a study on mice and they found those which were exposed to cigarette smoke actually had immune systems that were defective and overreacted to the smoke. The smoke-exposed mice had accelerated emphysema alongside airway scarring which solidified the researchers’ belief that smoking might lead to our innate immune response exaggerating and causing our viral infections to be twice or even thrice as serious when in contact with cigarette smoke.
Wash Your Hands
You might just shriek when you hear this… there are close to 160 types of rhinovirus out there that would lead to the common cold. When we go out (or even when we are in the safe confines of our home), we are at the mercy of these rhinoviruses since they are lurking around us, on our door handles, on the bus seat and even the elevator button. What we are not suggesting you do is to completely cut yourself off from the world of viruses. Our immune system has the capability to fend off these viruses most of the time, but there’s another line of defence you can put up — when you wash your hands with soap and water and avoid touching your face (in particular, your nose, eyes and mouth) with your dirty hands, you severely reduce the chances of catching the virus.
Colds are an everyday occurrence. At any one point, someone around you, either your family member, colleague or friend, is holding back their snot with a thick wad of tissue paper. If you fall ill, take comfort in the fact that your immune system has what it needs to deal with your cold and virus. All it takes is a little more rest, fluids and time for you to get back up on your feet once again.