- Wash your hands often.
Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds can help protect you from getting sick. Washing your hands frequently helps prevent the spread of infection. Use plain soap and water, making sure to pay attention to spaces between fingers, and under the fingernails. Rinse and dry with a clean towel. Teach your children to wash their hands properly. If soap and water is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a good alternative.
Make sure to wash hands after sneezing or coughing, and before handling food.
- Avoid touching your face.
Viruses can enter your body through the areas around your nose, mouth, and eyes. It is important to avoid touching your face if you are exposed to a person with a cold, especially if you have not washed your hands.
- Don’t smoke
Smoking tobacco products irritates and damages the throat and lungs, and can worsen cold symptoms – which already include a sore throat and cough. Even secondhand smoke can cause irritation. A recent study also found the anti-viral response in smokers may become suppressed, making them less able to fight off infection.
- Use disposable items if a family member is infected.
Use your own disposable plates, cups, and utensils and discard them after use if you have a cold. This is especially helpful if there are children in the household, who may attempt to take food off others’ plates, or drink from others’ cups.
- Keep household surfaces clean.
Clean all household surfaces frequently to keep them germ-free. Viruses can live on surfaces for several hours after being touched by an infected person. Pay attention to the areas you touch most often and use soap and water, bleach, or disinfectant cleaners to wipe down doorknobs, keyboards, phones, remote controls, desks, toys, countertops, taps and their handles, and drawer handles.
- Use paper towels
Cloth towels can harbour viruses for hours after being touched, just as many surfaces do. To avoid contamination, use paper towels to clean up in the kitchen and to dry your hands after washing.
- Wash toys
Children are four times more likely to get a cold than adults, and often the common cold virus is spread by contact with toys. When you clean all the household surfaces, remember to clean your child’s toys too.
- Throw tissues away after use
You’ll probably use a lot of tissues if you have a cold, but be sure you throw them away after each use. Even a small sneeze into one tissue will harbour the virus for hours and if placed on a table or countertop, it will contaminate the surface.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
It’s important to be healthy at all times, so that if you do get a cold your body’s immune system is strong and can fight the infection. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.
- Control stress
When we experience stress we release a hormone called cortisol, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic stress causes an over-production of this hormone, which in turn causes the immune system to become resistant to it. Studies have shown that when a chronically stressed person is exposed to the common cold virus, which causes inflammation, their bodies are less able to fight it because their natural anti-inflammatory response does not work as well as it should.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “Common Cold and Runny Nose.”
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others.”
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “Seasonal Influenza (Flu) – How To Clean and Disinfect Schools To Help Slow the Spread of Flu.”
- UpToDate: “Patient information: The Common Cold in Adults (Beyond the Basics).”
- UpToDate: “Patient information: The Common Cold in Adults: Diagnosis and Clinical Features.”
- Yale School of Medicine: “Study Shows Why Cigarette Smoke Makes Flu, Other Viral Infections Worse.”