Colds run rampant in the winter because we spend more time in cramped quarters – buses, classrooms, hockey change rooms, couches and ski chalets – and less time outside. Viruses pass from our hands to others, and via the air after a sneeze or a cough. It’s not always easy when the weather’s really crisp, but cold prevention can be as easy as choosing to go on a walk instead of going to a movie theatre. When you can’t avoid close quarters, give those hands a good wash with soap and water. Also, some studies indicate that humidity and the rhinovirus don’t get along, so using a humidifier might help fend off colds.
Catching a chill after a long day out in the low temperatures does not lead to a cold – colds are caused by viruses. Caveat: If you have gotten really cold it can depress your immune system and if you’re exposed to a cold virus at this time, you might catch it more easily. When going outside this time of year, dress in layers, choosing natural fabrics or those designed for athletic use, to keep yourself comfortable, warm and dry. This will not only help prevent a cold, but you’re likely to stay outside longer getting exercise (which is great for your immune system) and enjoying fresh outdoor air where viruses struggle to spread.
Sneezing and coughing wrong
Let’s be clear: it’s fine to sneeze and cough, and a normal part of life. But sneezing or coughing into your hands sets you up for passing viruses on to others. Kids in school are now taught to use the crook of their elbow. It’s not quite caught on among the adult set, but it really works to help contain the cold virus and keep hands a bit cleaner as they touch surfaces, others, food and more. Extra tip: avoid touching your face too frequently, as that’s an effective way to get a virus from your hands into your body via proximity to your mouth and nose.