Coughs and colds are not uncommon at this time of year, but they seem to be especially prevalent this year thanks to COVID. Last year many of us were confined to our homes, not mixing with other people and therefore probably remained very well throughout the autumn and winter, but this year is a different story. Society has opened up, the children are back at school and no longer in small bubbles, people are back in the office and there is a lot of contact with others in general so it won’t come as a surprise that at some point many of us will experience a cold or flu type virus of some kind.
Most adults are likely to catch between two and five colds every year. There are hundreds of different types of the cold virus, around 50% of which are rhinoviruses and there are four coronaviruses that cause the common cold. If you have had one type of common cold virus, your immune response to that virus will not protect you from other types of common cold viruses, which is why we are always vulnerable to colds. Social restrictions have meant that we probably haven't had a common cold in a year, our immunity is likely to be reduced and therefore the pool of viruses we're susceptible to will be larger, but the symptoms will likely be very similar.
Medical professionals and scientists alike believe that a strong immune system will help our bodies fight off infections. While some people may be able to genetically generate antibodies against such viruses, healthy eating and good hygiene habits will certainly help to support our immunity.
Increase Your Vitamin D Intake
It has been proven that a higher intake of Vitamin D can help to support and improve the immune system, especially during the darker winter months when there is a lack of sunshine. A study that analysed over 10,000 patients found that those with a low level of vitamin D were at a higher risk of upper respiratory tract infections than those with a sufficient level.
Take A Probiotic
Probiotics are a type of good bacteria and can offer health benefits. Some research shows that probiotics can help to prevent upper respiratory tract infections such as the common cold and support the immune system's defences.
Take Regular Exercise
Staying active often helps to stay healthy. Regular exercise offers the benefit of helping the immune system function better. For example, the immune system prevents pathogens from entering the body through the skin. Research has shown that people who exercise regularly are able to heal wounds quicker compared to those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle, reducing the risk of bacteria from entering the body.
Don’t Touch Your Mouth, Eyes Or Nose
It seems pretty obvious that touching your mouth, nose or eyes is a pretty easy way for bugs to enter your body, but these bad habits people tend to do without even realising. Viruses tend to enter the system via the oral and nasal respiratory tracts. Everyone should be more conscious of keeping your hands away from your face. Peripherals such as keyboards and phones are covered in germs and bacteria so it’s a good idea to clean them regularly. Hand sanitiser is a sure way to keep germs at bay and stringent hand hygiene routines should be adhered to continually.
Stay At Home
If you suspect you may be falling victim to a virus then it’s probably a good idea to stay at home if you can. Work from home if you are able, this will protect your colleagues from infection. Viruses circulate through coughing and sneezing and transmission is much higher indoors.
If it’s too late for you and you’ve already succumbed to the worst cold ever, then stay home, stay warm and rest. Drink plenty of fluids and take painkillers to ease any aches or a low fever. Though you may not have much of an appetite, it’s important to eat nutritious food to support your immune system and provide the energy it needs to do its job so that you can be better again.