If you’ve found yourself battling a cold lately, you might be ready to figure out how to nip it in the bud. Or perhaps you simply want to know how to prevent it from happening next time. Chances are you’re already familiar with hand washing, antibacterial wipes, and keeping your hands away from your nose and mouth, but regardless of your germ knowledge, there are a few things about colds you still might not know.
A keypad is covered with germs. Believe it or not, a cell phone can be worse to touch than a used tissue. According to Jennifer Collins, MD, cold viruses can live intact for about 18 hours on metal, glass, and the polycarbonate screen on your smartphone. One study in 2007 found that 60 percent of people who touched contaminated solid and smooth items such as a doorknob or telephone, ended up picking up the germs after an hour. 30 percent were infected at the 18-hour mark. Flu viruses can live up to one to two days on a nonporous, hard surface, and can even make it eight to twelve hours on porous, soft surfaces.
Working out is your best bet. The common cold can’t be cured by vaccines, pills or shots, but according to David C. Nielman, PhD, regular exercise can help to mobilize your immune cells. A study in 2010 at Appalachian State University found that participants who worked out five or more days per week were less likely to experience long-term symptoms, and were even less likely to catch a cold than those who worked out only once a week.
Cold weather is a good thing. Germs vary from season to season, and winter colds tend to heal faster than summer colds. Rhinoviruses tend to thrive in cold weather, while the enterovirus seems to spread mostly in the summer and early fall months. Summer heat may also play a part in the way immune systems respond to colds, since people are more likely to run the air conditioner (which can dry out the nose), exercise heavily to sweat out a cold, and stay up later.
One folk remedy does work. Not much has been proven to fight colds, but research has proven honey to be of benefit. One 2012 study in the journal Pediatrics found that honey can help improve cough symptoms in children over one year old, and yet another study found that buckwheat honey can help children sleep better when they’re sick. According to Collins, “it’s like putting a soothing moisturizer on the dry, irritated lining of your throat.” However, it is important to note that pediatricians do not recommend giving honey to children under one year old because it may cause infant botulism if a certain bacterium is present in the honey.
Your symptoms are a warning. To yourself and others, as a matter of fact. According to Collins, you’re more likely to infect people within two to four days after you first get your symptoms. So next time you feel embarrassed for the sneezing and coughing symptoms that plague your body, remind yourself that this is a warning to others to move out of the way.
You’ve got milk. If you’re afraid to drink milk when you’re sick to avoid making your nose and throat symptoms even more intense, you might want to think again. According to Collins, the vitamin D in milk can help to keep your energy levels up, optimize your immune system, keep tissues hydrated, and contribute to cell growth. You can also get vitamin D from fish, fortified orange juice and cereal.
Lastly, you can’t get sick twice from the same cold. You can, however, get a series of colds, since there are over 200 viruses roaming around during any given year, according to Collins. These viruses can form over 1,500 variations of colds, so it’s important to keep washing your hands and taking precautions, even when you’re already fighting a cold.
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.
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