Common Colds Prevention: It's All in the Handshake

Shaking hands is such a warm and friendly gesture. Who would believe it could make you so sick? Common colds are caused by more than 100 different viruses and there are no antiviral medications to cure the common cold. Though you probably cannot avoid getting at least a few colds in your lifetime, there are ways you can avoid getting them less frequently than not.

Get Your Z's
Not getting enough sleep lowers the immune system's ability to fight off colds and other viruses. That may be why the busy holiday season seems to be prime time for colds. Take a day off and rest.

Eat Right and Exercise
Eating healthy meals with the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals protects the immune system and the immune system protects you. Engaging in daily exercise is vital to a healthy body as well. Take a vitamin supplement and go for a walk.

Avoid Stress
Another holiday-induced immune system breaker is stress. Stress can also be caused by work, family and other personal problems a person may have going on in his or her life. We can't always avoid stress, but when we recognize we are under stress, we should do our best to avoid other things that predispose us to colds. Take a hot bath and meditate.

Take Care of Chronic Diseases and Conditions
People who have allergies, asthma and other respiratory diseases are more likely to get colds. People who are diabetic, who have heart conditions, high blood pressure, kidney failure or other chronic conditions are more at risk of contracting a cold and getting more serious complications from a cold as well. Take your medications and follow your doctor's directions on caring for your condition.

Avoid the Virus In Public Areas
The number one cause of contracting a cold is contacting the virus. Cold viruses can remain alive on your hands and on various surfaces for up to three hours. Don't blame your coworker for sneezing in the elevator. It was probably the germs left on the elevator button that was passed to you.

Someone who has a cold is infectious for 24 hours before symptoms begin and can last until about three days after most symptoms end. It's a good policy to stay home when you have a cold, but let's face it; most people continue their daily activities.

Wash your hands frequently during the day, not just after using the bathroom or before eating. You would be amazed at how many times a day your hands touch your face, mouth, nose and eyes. It's especially important to wash your hands frequently if you work with children, have contact with the general public, work in a healthcare setting or have a family member or coworker who already has a cold.

Know how to properly wash your hands in a public restroom. Turn on the faucet (using warm water), place your hands under the water, wet them and then add soap. Scrub thoroughly including the backs of your hands. Without turning off the water, grab a paper towel and turn the faucet off with it. Discard that towel and wipe your hands on a clean towel.

Persons who smoke should wash their hands before smoking. A telephone or cell phone is a prime place to pick up a virus, especially if it is shared. Wipe these items with disinfectant frequently.  After shaking hands with someone, or handling money, discretely try to wash your hands or at least avoid touching your face or eating until you have done so.

Keep disinfectant wipes and some alcohol-based hand cleaner at your desk or in your purse for when you can't use soap and water. Get your own tissues and hand cream.

Avoid the Virus At Home
At home, counter surfaces should be cleaned frequently, as well as phones, keyboards, remote controls and game controls. Everyone should use his or her own glass and toothbrush. Wash towels frequently. Teach your family to wash their hands. Stair rails and doorknobs should also be cleaned frequently.

A little extra cleaning may help keep you from getting that miserable cold. Every time you remember to clean is one less chance you will get a cold.

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