Of the four seasons, there is one that is unfortunately present all year round and that is Cold Season. During the winter we are extremely susceptible to catching our fair share of illnesses, especially if you have kids. Most children experience 5 -7 colds per year, while adults typically have 2 – 3 per year. This article will inform you about cold facts and prevention to help you avoid a catching a couple of colds per year, which is especially important nowadays!
Did you know that there are over 200 viruses that cause a common cold (www.WebMD.com)? A cold is usually nothing more than an annoyance of symptoms for about 10 days, but this is still lost time from work, school, or other activities such as exercising or socializing. WebMD describes how the common cold begins:
You can catch a common cold from another person who is infected with the virus. This usually happens by touching a surface contaminated with cold germs -- a computer keyboard, doorknob, or eating utensil, for example -- and then touching your nose or mouth. You can also catch a cold by encountering secretions someone with a cold has sneezed into the air.
These 200+ viruses spread through contact from saliva, mucus, and sneeze-droplets when they come in contact with mucus membranes (i.e. mouth, nose, eyes). Think about all of the items you come into contact with each day. Here’s just a short list: phones, computers, steering wheels, door handles, public transportation, kissing kids on the mouth, fingers in lip balm, a kid shoving their toothbrush into your mouth, shopping carts, not covering a sneeze or cough, or sneezing or coughing into your hand and then touching other surfaces, or a child sticking their finger in your nose. And the worst part is that we are contagious three days before showing signs of being sick!
Think about this scenario. You’ve been out at the store or at work and touching door handles, your computer keyboard, cell phone, etc. Next, think about the number of times you have touched your mouth, nose or eyes. Now you head home so, you jump into the car and grab the steering wheel or bus handle, which has been touched a few thousand other times after grocery shopping or grabbing lunch. Then, you arrive at day care and you give Susie a big old kiss on the mouth. But unbeknownst to you, Susie has been sucking on the crayons that Timmy just finished using and he has a brewing cold. Basically, you just kissed Timmy. After that, you head home and give your partner a kiss and possibly your other child too. You get the idea.
As you can see, a cold can spread quite fast and several factors weaken our immune systems that make it easier for us to get sick. These include stress, a nutrient poor diet, and not getting enough sleep. If you have a common cold, the only remedy is time, fluids, rest, since a virus cannot be treated with antibiotics. Yet, it’s truly amazing how the human body can ward off many viruses and that we are not sick more often! Nonetheless, to prevent spreading a cold or catching a cold, frequent hand washing will minimize the risk of catching as many colds throughout the year. You can also be sure to wash your hands before you eat, avoid eating with your hands, sharing food or drink with anyone (especially kids), sharing lipstick or lip balm, or licking your fingers while cooking.
Hope that some of this has been helpful to avoid getting fewer illnesses each year!