Tips on avoiding the common cold


Well-Known Member
4 Jun 2011
How to Avoid Getting a Cold

Even if they haven’t found a cure for colds, researchers have learned plenty about how cold viruses spread. Scientists first assumed that colds were transmitted when infected people sneezed or coughed, sending tiny aerosolized droplets laden with viruses into the air, where they could be inhaled by the next cold victim. But research over the past decade suggests that we’re far more likely to pick up a cold virus, literally, by touching contaminated surfaces.

We catch a cold when we get those viruses on our fingers and then touch either our noses or eyes, the two most hospitable entry points for the virus. From there, cold viruses quickly reach nasal passages, where they take hold and begin multiplying.

Rhinoviruses can also be transmitted via handshakes and other personal contact. “But contrary to what a lot of people think, putting a contaminated fingertip into your mouth won’t result in a cold,†Hendley says. “Substances in saliva quickly destroy the virus.â€

Hardy Cold Viruses Abound: Don’t Touch!

“Rhinoviruses can survive on doorknobs, table tops, shopping cart handles and other surfaces for 24 hours or more,†Hendley says.

In one ingenious experiment, Hendley and his colleagues had cold sufferers spend the night in a local hotel room and then asked them to identify what they’d touched during their stay; 35% of everything they touched -- including door handles, pens, light switches, TV remote controls, faucets, and telephones -- turned out to be contaminated with a cold virus.

The study also showed how easily viruses can then be picked up by others. When volunteers touched surfaces one hour after they’d been contaminated, the viruses spread to fingertips 60% of the time. A full 18 hours after contamination, transmission still occurred 33% of the time. A follow-up study by Hendley’s team, conducted in people’s homes, found just about the same percentage of contaminated surfaces.

The most obvious way to prevent picking up a cold, then, is keeping your fingers out of your eyes and nose. Most of us end up rubbing our eyes or touching our noses without thinking, however.

A more practical approach, Hendley says, is to wash your hands frequently. Just rinsing with water is enough to wash most rhinoviruses away. Using soap has the advantage of forcing you to rub your hands together and rinse thoroughly, which is likely to remove more viruses.

Prevent Flu the #1 Way: Get Vaccinated

The surest way to avoid influenza is to get vaccinated. Flu shots, which are designed to match each year’s specific circulating strains, are between 50% and 70% effective at preventing the illness.

Boosting Immunity With Sleep and Positive Thinking

Getting a good night’s sleep just might bolster your defenses against colds and perhaps flu bugs as well. There’s growing evidence of a link between sleep and a healthy immune system.

A 2009 experiment by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University suggests that the more sleep you get, the better your chances of fighting off respiratory bugs. The scientists recruited 153 healthy men and women who agreed to be quarantined and then have cold viruses injected into their nostrils. Over the following five days, those who slept less than 7 hours were nearly three times more likely to come down with colds compared to those who racked up 8 hours of sleep or more. The researchers also measured what sleep scientists call sleep efficiency, a measure of how deeply people sleep. The better the quality of their sleep, the more likely they were to fight off colds.

Maintaining a positive outlook may also help bolster immune systems. The same research team reported in 2006 that volunteers with a positive outlook on life -- people who were generally happy, lively, and calm -- were better able to fight off both cold and flu viruses that people who were anxious, hostile, or depressed.

Source: How to Avoid the Common Cold