Blog: How to prevent a cold this winter

Blog: How to prevent a cold this winter

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, so I recommend going on the offensive against illness this winter.

More importantly, prevention is key to not getting sick in the first place. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a five-pronged approach to steering clear from illness:

  1. Wash your Hands: Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds while singing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  2. Sanitize: Disinfect surfaces that you touch. Cold and flu viruses can remain infectious for hours to days on surfaces so sanitize door knobs, .
  3. Be careful what areas your hands are touching: Viruses usually enter your body through the nose or mouth so don’t give them a free ride.
  4. Stay away from sick people: People who are coughing and sneezing can propel their infection into the air and onto surfaces several feet away.
  5. Stay home when you are sick: Try to avoid exposing others to your illness. Cough or sneeze into your elbow not your hands.  Most people don’t wash their hands immediately after sneezing or cough into them, but most people don’t touch surfaces with the inside of their elbow.

What happens if you get a cold anyways?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold. You are left with helping your body to recover, relieving symptoms and watching for complications.

Take care of your body by:

  1. Drinking plenty of fluids
  2. Keep additional moisture in the air with humidifiers or vaporizers
  3. Try to maintain a good diet, consider a multivitamin
  4. Take it easy and try to get more rest

You may try over-the counter medication to relieve symptoms. Be sure to read labels and follow recommended dosages. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against combination products. These may contain medication for symptoms you don’t have and increase the chance of accidentally overdosing when you take a second product with a similar ingredient.

If over-the-counter preparations aren’t helping or you have worsening or persistent symptoms, you may have signs of something more than a cold. This may be time for a visit to the doctor.

You can further prevent more severe infections such as influenza, whooping cough and many types of pneumonia by getting immunized.

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About the Author

Dr. John Beckerman
Dr. John Beckerman

Dr. John Beckerman is a pediatrician on staff at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill.