The common cold may not be the most serious of diseases, but this does not stop it from being a huge problem. Research has shown that the average adult will catch 2-4 colds per year, and a child as many as 6-10. This, of course, varies according to circumstance, including age and overall health, but regardless: a cold-free winter should be considered one lucky streak.
A Cough and the cold are generally the symptoms of an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus. These viruses take hold in greater numbers at certain times of the year, during the colder weather months. In one BBC.com article, it says there are a few theories why people catch more coughs and colds at this time including: closer contact with other people due to being indoors more, and the variation of moisture content in the air allowing viruses to flourish. Children have less developed resistance to viruses, which is one of the reasons they usually catch more coughs and colds.
For most of us, the arrival of cough and cold season is an annoyance. There are the irritating, unpleasant and exhausting symptoms; time out from your usual routine to recover; and the frequent trips to the doctor and pharmacist.
A cough or cold rarely requires hospital treatment, but this doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously. Without any kind of action or treatment, you can expect to have an unpleasant week or two while you recuperate, perhaps needing to miss work or school even.
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Your Cough and Cold Action Plan
Thankfully, there is plenty you can do to help prevent catching the rhinovirus in the first place. And if you get the bug anyway, there are a few more things you can do to minimize discomfort and get you back to feeling more like yourself.
7 Ways To Help Prevent the Cold of Flu:
- Do wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, and always before eating. This will wash away many of the germs that may cause coughs and colds before they can enter your body. Cough and cold germs can enter your system through your eyes, nose and mouth, so eating with clean hands is essential.
- Don’t forget to teach your children to wash their hands regularly, too. Lower levels of hand hygiene are another reason why children are more prone to coughs and colds. Younger children will likely need supervision to do a thorough hand-washing job.
- Do carry a small bottle of hand-sanitizing liquid, and use it whenever soap and water aren’t available: it’s the next best thing, and certainly better than dirty hands.
- Don’t forget to regularly clean germs’ favorite hiding places. Try to keep your home clean, especially when a member of the family is already sick. Think about areas that are frequently touched, such as door and cupboard handles, light switches, toys, tablets and phones, and remote controls. These items are often covered with the types of germs that cause coughs and colds. Wipe them clean with a suitable product to lessen your chances of catching a virus.
- Do try to avoid particularly crowded spaces during cough and cold season if you can, or consider using public transport at quieter times.
- Don’t allow fear of catching a cold to rule your life, however; you’ll never eliminate the risk entirely, so enjoy yourself and keep to a normal routine.
- Do eat a healthy, balanced diet and stay hydrated so that your body’s ready to do its best to fight off any virus. Taking vitamin supplements can be wise in order to fill nutritional gaps in your diet.
If a cough or cold comes your way, this is what you should or shouldn’t do.
- Do pick up a highly-regarded cough and cold remedy from your pharmacist. This can ease much of the discomfort and irritation caused by each stage of the virus, meaning you can get back to normal quicker.
- Don’t forget to cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and to keep to your hand-washing routine. This will mean there’s less chance of the cough or cold spreading to friends, colleagues and family members.
- Do use cough reliever syrups in the evening: this will maximize the effect overnight. It will give your body a better chance to rest, and you should be able to recover faster.
- Don’t suffer unnecessarily. See a doctor if your cough or cold lasts longer than a week, you have persistent pain or difficulty breathing, or if you have other serious health conditions affected by your cough or cold.
- Do keep hydrated with plenty of water or other liquids, and eat healthily. Your body needs optimum hydration and nutrition to recover faster.
- Don’t forget to stop and rest as much as possible until you are better. You may not need or be able to stop work, but cut out other unnecessary activities in favor of rest.
- Do try ice-cold drinks to ease inflammation and irritation if you have a sore throat, but avoid caffeinated drinks as these can be dehydrating.
- Don’t underestimate the power of a comforting soup or broth, or warm drink. Many people find these incredible soothing especially during the colds season.
- Do take pain relief for sore throat and headaches if necessary. This will allow you to get more rest.
Unfortunately, even with the greatest attempts at prevention, coughs and colds are a part of life. The important thing to remember is to focus on health and hygiene, and to take good care of yourself and your family consistently. This way, you’ll minimize the impact of nasty coughs and colds as much as possible.
Irene Edwards is the Marketing Director for Mucosolvan, the most frequently sold cough remedy in the world.