Stopping a Cold Before it Starts


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Each year, Americans suffer one billion colds. Adults average about two to four colds a year and it can take up to two weeks to start feeling better. But doctors say there are ways to prevent colds before symptoms even begin. Ivanhoe has some helpful tips.

A cough, a sneeze, a runny nose, and a fever. They’re all unwelcome symptoms of the common cold. The good news … certain measures may help you stop a cold before it starts!

First, try a humidifier. Dry mucous membranes can hinder your body’s ability to trap and eliminate germs as they enter your system. Also, stop touching your face! One study found participants touched their face an average of 16 times per hour. Make sure your phone stays clean, too. A study found cell phones may carry about ten times the number of bacteria as toilet seats. And get serious about handwashing … scrubbing for at least 20 seconds getting between your fingers and underneath your nails.

“These are effective and generally safe and easy practices that everyone should be doing as they go about their daily routine,” says Ronan Factora, MD, a geriatrics specialist at Cleveland Clinic.

Also, you may want to take a vitamin D supplement. Research shows people who lack this vitamin are more likely to suffer an upper respiratory infection. Some studies suggest taking 400 international units a day can prevent infection.

“Make sure that you’re well-rested and you get a good night’s sleep. That’s a risk factor for getting sick for sure,” continued Dr. Factora.

One study found participants who regularly got less than seven hours of sleep were three times more likely to come down with a cold than those who slept eight or more hours.

Probiotics may also protect you from the common cold. A New Zealand study found rugby players who took a probiotic supplement experienced significantly fewer colds and GI infections than those who took a placebo.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.  

REPORT #2831

BACKGROUND: A cold is an infection called a virus. There are more than 200 types, but the most common one is rhinovirus, which is thought to be responsible for at least 50% of colds. Other viruses that can cause colds include coronavirus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, and parainfluenza. According to the CDC, 22 million school days are lost each year in the U.S. because of colds, and estimates say that Americans have one billion colds a year. A cold begins when a virus attaches to the lining of the nose or throat. The immune system sends out white blood cells to attack the virus. Unless you’ve experienced that exact strain of the virus before, you can lose the initial attack and your body will send in reinforcements to fight the virus. With so much of your energy directed at fighting the virus, you are typically left feeling tired and miserable.


WAYS TO PREVENT A COLD: There are ways to prevent colds and shorten their length. Using a humidifier which provides low humidity can dry out the nasal passages, making it harder to trap and eliminate particles in the air that settle in the sinuses. Loading up on vitamin D will help activate the immune responses. You can find it in foods like salmon, beef, egg yolks, fortified milk, orange juice, cheese, and mushrooms. Also, zinc can help decrease the growth of viruses which most adults get in their daily food intake. Washing your hands often and for at least 20 seconds will help combat a cold and remembering to disinfect your electronic devices with a Lysol or Clorox wipe. Finding time to relax and getting plenty of rest is highly recommended in preventing colds. People who regularly get less than seven hours of sleep are three times more likely to come down with a cold. Probiotic foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha are known to help support the immune system. It is also recommended to wear a mask which is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as other respiratory infections, and get the flu vaccine.


THE FLU’S ALLY: THE COMMON COLD: Yale researchers report that the most common cause of colds, rhinovirus, can prevent the flu virus from infecting airways by jumpstarting the body’s antiviral defenses. The team led by Dr. Ellen Foxman, Assistant Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Immunobiology, studied three years of clinical data from more than 13,000 patients seen at Yale New Haven Hospital with symptoms of respiratory infection. They found that even during months when both viruses were active, if the common cold virus was present, the flu virus was not. To test how the rhinovirus and influenza virus interact, Foxman’s lab created human airway tissue from stem cells that give rise to epithelial cells, which line the airways of the lung and are a chief target of respiratory viruses. The results were after the tissue had been exposed to rhinovirus, the influenza virus was unable to infect the tissue. Scientists do not know whether the annual seasonal spread of the common cold virus will have a similar impact on infection rates of those exposed to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.


* For More Information, Contact:

Andrea Pacetta, Media Relations

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