Beating (and preventing) the Common Cold

Regardless of the season, there is never a good time to catch a cold. There are plenty of colds going around in winter, but the other seasons that fill the air with warmth and pollen can also bring viruses.  

Image: Getty Images

Image: Getty Images

‘The average person will experience several bouts of the common cold per year, causing absences from school and work,’ says Associate Professor Deborah Friedman from Deakin’s School of Medicine. ‘The average incidence of the common cold is five to seven episodes per year in preschool children, and two to three per year in adulthood.’

While there are some viruses and colds that are unavoidable, there is lots we can do to reduce our chances of getting struck down with a cold.

Here are the top ways to spread germs:

1.    Shaking hands

2.    Catching respiratory droplets from others coughing and sneezing

3.    Touching contaminated environmental surfaces like door handles, tables and shared computers and tools

 

So, according to Assoc. Prof. Friedman, what can we do to lower our chances of catching a cold?

1.    Keep your hands clean: This is the single most effective thing you can do to prevent catching a cold as some virusus can reamin on the skin for up to two hours.

2.    Sleep! According to research, ‘those who slept five or fewer hours per night were almost three times more likely to develop the common cold than those who slept more than seven hours per night,’ said Assoc. Prof. Friedman. ‘Try and get your consistent eight hours of sleep a night.’

3.    Probiotics really work: pills, powder or simply eating the right foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, miso soup or pickles.

4.    Zinc: While no vitamins (including C and D, garlic and ginseng) have been shown to constructively reduce the impact of a cold, zinc is a mineral that has been shown in studies to prevent a cold and reduce its impact. But – you have to take them for months for them to work.


Expert: Associate Professor Deborah Friedman, School of Medicine, Deakin University.