Winters have always been the most awaited of all seasons, and we have ample reasons for embracing it. For starters, we love it for not missing the sunrise even as a late riser; enjoy endless soups and coffee without feeling flushed. But while we bask in the winter sun, there are some things we dread too, like a blocked nose, a runny nose, body ache, sore throat, sneezing, headache, low-grade fever, and flakey dry skin. When the cold infects the body’s immune system, you might be at risk of being affected by the virus. Common cold usually occurs as a virus-related infection in your upper respiratory tract, most prevalent being rhinovirus (1).
As annoying as catching a cold can be, it is not obvious that you’ll fall sick every winter. Staying healthy and maintaining your hygiene can protect you from viruses, and you can enjoy the weather without worrying. Here are some ways to fight the cold and stay healthy through the chilly months:
1. Humidifier To The Rescue
The lack of humidity can dry out your nasal passages, making it more difficult to capture and remove the micro-bugs which settle in your sinuses (2). This ultimately leads to the development of a cold. The solution is to get a humidifier installed and run it when the air feels dry. If you add some essential oils like peppermint, lavender or other herbal oils, it is like icing to the cake. Those oils have medicinal properties that will not only prevent bacterias and viruses from spreading, but will also heal if you are suffering from nasal allergies.
Pro Tip: As convenient as using a humidifier is, make sure you clean it thoroughly and don’t let microbes settle in it. You can also let it soak in the sun for the algae to die out.
2. Get The Right Amount Of Vitamin D
Studies show that those who don’t get sufficient vitamin D are more likely to develop an upper respiratory infection that may lead to a scratchy throat, cough, or a stuffy nose. Current recommendations from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggest that adults should aim for at least 600 IUs daily (3). To get enough vitamin D from your diet, you will need to include beef, salmon, egg yolks, fortified milk, cheese, orange juice, and mushrooms. So, if you suspect that you’re lacking vitamin D, consult your physician about a supplement that meets your nutritional needs.
3. Keep Your Hands Clean Always
Even if you don’t realize it, you touch your face a lot. Though it is not recommended in any season, it’s a severe no-no especially during the season of flu and colds. If you contract a virus, whether through someone else or an infected surface, it can get into your body through unclean hands. Covid 19 has changed the perspective of health and hygiene for many people. Everyone is now more alert and conscious of their habits and washing hands is now one of them. Even if you are outside and don’t have access to running water, make sure to slip in a hand sanitizer into your bag. Not only will that make you feel fresh but will also prevent catching a cold and other diseases.
Pro Tip: Make sure you sanitize your hands after shaking hands, hugging, or touching surfaces and use a mild moisturizer daily to keep the skin from cracking.
4. Cleanse Your Phone
Think about every place you’ve put your phone during the day — your kitchen counter, bathroom stall, or restaurant table. None of these places are spotlessly clean. The phone is a device you stick to your face for calls and selfies. Try to cleanse your phone with a device disinfectant at least twice a day. It will be ineffective to wash your hands if you are constantly grabbing your phone which has been to all germ-filled places. All you need is a clean, thin wipe to get the surface clean.
Pro Tip: To disinfect your devices, use wipes regularly. Make sure you turn off your device, then squeeze out any liquid and dry the phone surface off using a soft, lint-free cloth. Although bleach is fantastic for removing viruses, products that contain bleach can harm your phone. So, avoid using it.
5. Take Time To Unwind
Being tired and anxious can make way for colds because stress triggers your body to release excessive cortisol, a chemical that can weaken your immune system’s ability to fight off infection (4). Make it your goal to slow down and put your health before everything. Do yoga, practice meditation, and take regular walks in nature to keep yourself stress-free.
6. Sleep Well
They say a night of sound sleep can solve many physiological problems. A restful night is essential in the fight against cold. People who have a sound sleep of eight hours can fight viruses and germs way better than those who don’t. If you cannot sleep because of a nose congestion, you can try nasal drops or a humidifier. A few tips to keep in mind is to refrain from using your phone at least half an hour before going to bed and cleansing your face and feet before going to bed. Washing your face and feet at the end of the day can be relaxing. Even better if you have a night skincare routine.
7. Reach Out For Zinc
Studies suggest that zinc may actually reduce the spread of viruses in your body (5). Additionally, taking zinc (typically in the form of zinc lozenges or sprays with zinc gluconate) is believed to lessen the severity and duration of symptoms immediately after they begin to manifest.
8. Keep Separate Utensils When You Are Sick
When someone in the family is ill, make sure to use disposable glasses, or label their glasses. This will help avoid the transmission of the virus. Also, be cautious when sharing objects like telephone, towels, and dishes that the infected person may have come in contact with.
Now that you know how to keep cold at bay, winter sickness can be dealt with more effectively. Make sure you take the necessary precautions. Keep yourself high on fluids, and don’t forget to drink enough water. Even if you catch a cold, there are numerous home remedies to heal you in no time. So, what precautions have you taken to keep the cold at bay in the winters? Let us know in the comments section below!
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- Upper Respiratory Tract Infection
- Heated humidified air for the common cold
- Vitamin D
- Efficacy of disinfectant-impregnated wipes used for surface disinfection in hospitals: a review
- Sleep and immune function