As we get deeper into winter and the nights get darker and colder, many of us will come down with the common cold. In any other year, the common cold, for the majority of people would just be “one of those things.” We would catch it, stock up on lemsip and wobble through the week, until we felt better. But 2020 isn’t like other years. This year has played host to the Coronavirus and unfortunately there is an overlap in symptoms that could make it more difficult for people to know what exactly they are dealing with. If you think you have been exposed to the virus or if you show any signs of symptoms you should immediately quarantine and arrange to take a Covid test, but the following list of tips to avoid catching a cold, could make things just a little bit simpler.
Really this goes without saying, but during the winter season, wrap-up in warm clothing. Ireland’s winter weather tends to be predominantly rainy with a cold breeze but rarely any snow. However it does get icy and it is important to wear warm, water-proof, layered ensembles, to trap the heat between your clothing. Invest in thermal gloves and a decent winter coat and make sure to keep your neck covered and protected with a warm scarf.
Dry your Hair
If you are anything like me, your Irish mammy will have warned you over and over about never going to bed or leaving the house with wet hair. And if you are anything like me you will have completely ignored that advice. Fun fact, for the most part this tip is actually a myth, as medical science suggests going outside with wet hair does not increase your chances of catching a cold. Rather, it leaves the hair susceptible to damage and breakages. However, as going into colder temperatures with wet hair will lower your own body temperature, possibly lowering your immune system, maybe just take the time to blow-dry your mane.
In the current climate, with the Coronavirus a very present issue, never share an item that goes near your mouth, nose or eyes. Sharing anything at the moment is considered ill-advised but in regards to the common cold it has always been an issue. You may be tempted to let someone taste a drink, share make-up, clothes, grooming equipment etc. but don’t forget, just because you feel fine does not mean that the other person does not have a flu or cold. People tend to actually be sick several days before they show symptoms of a cold and are considered infectious for roughly 2 weeks, giving them ample time to pass it on to you and you to someone else. This is one of those scenarios where sharing isn’t caring.
As per the Covid-19 guidelines everyone should already be wearing a facemask when out in public or around other people, but evidence shown in this article suggests wearing a mask also helps prevent a cold. Much like the coronavirus, the common cold is spread by coming into contact with an infected person. Typically via germs from coughing and sneezing, or touching surfaces that have been coughed or sneezed on. By wearing your facemask to protect yourself from the Coronavirus, you are also protecting against the flu and common cold. So mask-up.
Wash your Hands
This feels like another one that goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, wash your hands. The majority of germs are spread by people coughing or sneezing and then touching surfaces used by other people, who then consciously or subconsciously touch their own faces. By maintaining good hygiene practices, you keep yourself, your friends and your family, safe from colds, the flu and Covid.
Healthy eating is an important and integral part of avoiding a cold. Certain foods such as Greek yogurt, tomatoes and even dark chocolate have properties that aid the prevention of the common cold. Ginger tea has anti-inflammatory elements that works wonders for the immune system and on top of that it is a delicious and warming beverage best suited to the cold winter months. Salmon in particular is high in zinc, which is known to reduce cold symptoms and a study has shown children who ingested zinc daily were less likely to come down with a cold or flu. Anything high in vitamin C also works against the common cold and a more comprehensive list of these immune-boosting foods can be found here.
So there you go, some tips that will hopefully help you avoid catching a cold this winter. I suppose the best tip really is to have a bit of common sense. Don’t touch your face, wash your hands, don’t expose yourself to large groups of people. With the year that is in it, we all need to avoid anything that could possibly lower our immune systems and leave us vulnerable to Covid or over-tax our hospitals.
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