How to cope with the common cold this season


common cold

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colds are more common during the fall and winter. Every year, adults get an average of two to three colds, while children get even more. It's no wonder, too, when you consider that it can be caused by more than 200 viruses, and infection spreads from person to person through the air and close personal contact.

All of you who cough and sneeze without covering your mouths because you're busy reading your newspaper or on your smartphones and tablets: cut it out, please. You're not helping.


How to protect yourself and others 

The CDC offers the following tips to help reduce your risk of getting a cold:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water: Scrub them for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Viruses live on your hands, and regular hand-washing can help protect you from getting sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands: Viruses can enter your body this way and make you sick.
  • Stay away from people who are sick: Sick people can spread viruses that cause the common cold through close contact with others.

That means, if you have a cold, don't be a hero and go to work. Work from home, so you don't spread germs to your co-workers. The CDC also offers some additional tips to prevent spreading your cold to others:

  • Avoid close contact with others, such as hugging, kissing or shaking hands.
  • Move away from people before coughing or sneezing.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue, and then throw it away, or cough and sneeze into your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose. (Not just when you have a cold. Always. We don't want your spittle on us.)
  • Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects such as toys and doorknobs.


The waiting game 

You'll need to drink plenty of water, hot tea and soup. While you may be able to relieve symptoms with over-the-counter medications, they won't make your cold go away any faster. It should go without saying but, because the cold is caused by a virus, antibiotics won't help any. In fact, if you take them, you'll only make things worse because taking them when you don't need them may make it harder for your body to fight future bacterial infections. And you definitely don't want that.

Of course, if you have a fever higher than 100.4, your symptoms last more than 10 days or your symptoms are severe, see your doctor. This goes double for a child, and triple for a child who is younger than 3 months old.