How to Reduce Your Risk of Frequent Colds

( – Have you been getting frequent colds? Especially after periods of isolation, people are more prone to getting colds. The winter season, with indoor celebrations and family gatherings, makes colds and other sicknesses more frequent. However, it is true that some people contract colds more often than others.

It’s typical for most people to get two to four colds annually (more for children), and most of them emerge between the months of September and May in the Northern Hemisphere. When you have cold symptoms, you’ve likely been infected by a type of rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), enterovirus, adenovirus, or coronavirus (as most forms are much less severe than COVID-19).

How can you tell if it’s a cold you’ve got? Colds generally last about a week, and they’re the number one reason people see their family doctor in the United States.

How Can You Prevent Colds?

All social contact comes with a risk, but you can take some common precautions to prevent yourself from getting the common cold. Most of these are common sense, but it can be easy to forget.

  • Stay away from those with cold symptoms — they’re most infectious in the first few days.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth in case you have a virus on your hands, and always wash your hands after touching objects like door knobs.
  • Wash and change hand towels frequently.
  • Ensure you maintain a humid environment with a humidifier, as dryness creates ideal conditions for colds.
  • Keep wearing masks: they reduce the risk of giving and receiving all sorts of unpleasant illnesses, especially in crowded, public areas.
  • Maintain awareness of national, regional, local, and hyperfocal (workplace or school) trends concerning communicable illnesses and adjust your behaviors according to risk.
  • Eat well and maintain physical fitness under the guidance of your doctor and nutritionist.

Stay on Top of Your Health

Staying on top of other health concerns can prevent your body from getting more run down, which can leave you less able to defend against a cold or another virus. To support your body’s health and immune system, ask your doctor about multivitamins, ensure you get enough sleep, and reduce your stress levels whenever possible.

Chronic illnesses and other types of sickness can also increase the likelihood of getting a cold virus. That’s because your body is busy trying to achieve homeostasis and doing its best to fend off millions of microorganisms every day. If you’re already sick with something, it’s possible to acquire a cold as a coinfection or secondary infection to the first thing you have. Vaccinations can help, as a less severe COVID infection could mean you are less likely to come down with a cold on top of it.

Conduct Regular Risk Assessments

Staying on top of your health also means making risk assessments throughout the year. Based on your age, general health, and other factors, including the mental health need to socialize, it’s important for you and your doctor to determine your own level of risk when attending gatherings.

If you live with family members or roommates, it’s important to have risk assessment discussions often and to review isolation practices in the event of a household member’s illness. It’s always advisable to involve medical professionals in those conversations when possible.

While colds are a regular part of life, they’re generally inevitable. However, individuals, households, and communities can work together to prevent the spread of colds. Colds rob us of time with our family and friends, paid time off we might rather save for vacations, and our general wellness. Preventing the spread of viruses can support healthier communities and help us avoid frequent infection on individual levels.

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