6 Things That Might Help You Avoid a Cold!

The fall months bring colder weather and a string of holidays. They also bring more sniffles, runny noses, sneezes and coughs. Yes, fall and winter mean cold season. Since you can't treat them, you'd better prevent them. Colds are caused by viruses. There is no vaccine for a cold. There is no treatment for a cold. But there are some things you can do to boost your immune system and lower your chances of getting one. None of these methods is fool-proof and some have only a little evidence to support them. But all these tips are safe and possibly beneficial. Some of these tips, like sitting in the sauna, are downright enjoyable!

1.    Wash Your Hands & Use Hand Sanitizer

  • We all know this one but may not do it as much as we should.
  • Don't touch your face. Viruses spread easiest through the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Don't buy anti-bacterial soaps. They aren't any better than regular soap at cleaning your hands and they may make the problem of bacterial resistance worse. Stick with regular soap and water and hand sanitizers that don't contain antibiotics. They are safe and effective.

2.    Drink Lots of Fluids

  • Staying hydrated helps you resist colds.

3.    Use a Humidifier

  • Keeping the air moist keeps your nasal passages from drying out which makes them more susceptible to germs.
4.   Sit in the Sauna
  • The hot air may kill viruses in the nasal passages.

5.   Sleep

  • Getting enough sleep is crucial for immune system health.

6.  Exercise

  • Exercising boosts your immune system. But don't exercise too hard! In some people, very intense exercise may actually lower resistance to bugs.

Beth Kitchin, MS, RD
Assistant Professor
UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences