Prevention of Common Cold

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)1

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Back to: « Common Cold

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To prevent enterovirus infections, says Pichichero, “it’s all about blocking viral transmission.” The viruses travel in respiratory secretions, like saliva or mucus, or in the stool of an infected person. You can become infected by direct contact. Or you might pick up the virus by touching contaminated surfaces or objects, such as a telephone, doorknob or baby’s diaper. “Frequent hand washing and avoiding exposure to people who are sick with fever can help prevent the spread of infection,” says Pichichero.

The summer colds caused by enteroviruses generally clear up without treatment within a few days or even a week. But see a health care provider if you have concerning symptoms, like a high fever or a rash.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)2

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With schools back in session and cooler weather on the way, many of us will be spending more time indoors. It’s a time to make holiday plans. It’s a time for togetherness. And it’s a time when we share a lot of disease-causing germs. Fortunately, you can take simple steps to dodge germs and boost your chances of staying healthy.

By far the easiest and most effective way to prevent the spread of germs is to wash your hands often and well. Health care experts recommend scrubbing your hands vigorously with soap and water for at least 15 seconds—about as long as it takes to recite the alphabet.

Antibacterial soaps are popular and plentiful on store shelves. They contain a chemical called triclosan, which can kill bacteria. But are they better than regular soaps? In one recent study, researchers reviewed all the scientific papers published between 1980 and 2006 that compared regular and antibacterial soaps in everyday use. They found that regular soaps were as effective as antibacterial soaps, both in blocking germ-related disease symptoms and in reducing the amount of bacteria measured on hands.

When soap and water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based gel—usually called a “hand sanitizer”—to clean your hands. These alcohol-based hand rubs significantly reduce the number of germs on skin.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)3

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Preventing the Spread of Germs

  • Wash your hands often and well. If soap and water are not available, some health officials recommend rubbing your hands with alcohol-based gels.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Keep doctor-recommended vaccinations—for you and your children—up to date.
  • Stay home when you are sick and check with a health care provider when needed.
  • Eat right, get enough sleep and exercise regularly to help strengthen your immune system and fight sicknesses.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)4

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You can help reduce your risk of getting a cold: wash your hands often and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Source: CDC Features5

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How to Protect Yourself

Viruses that cause colds can spread from infected people to others through the air and close personal contact. You can also get infected through contact with stool (poop) or respiratory secretions from an infected person. This can happen when you shake hands with someone who has a cold, or touch a doorknob that has viruses on it, then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Help reduce your risk of getting a cold by washing hands often with soap and water.

Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette: always cough and sneeze into a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose.

You can help reduce your risk of getting a cold:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water

Wash 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 that cause colds can live on your hands, and regular handwashing can help protect you from getting sick.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

Viruses that cause colds 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.

Help reduce your risk of getting a cold by washing hands often with soap and water.

How to Protect Others

If you have a cold, you should follow these tips to prevent spreading it to other people:

  • Stay at home while you are sick
  • 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 then throw it away, or cough and sneeze into your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose
  • Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and objects such as toys and doorknobs

There is no vaccine to protect you against the common cold.

Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette: always cough and sneeze into a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose.

Source: CDC Features6

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Prevention

There are several steps you can take to help prevent bronchitis, including:

  • Avoid smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Practice good hand hygiene
  • Keep you and your child up to date with recommended immunizations

Source: CDC7

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Prevention

Cold

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with a cold

Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)8

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Prevention

  • Avoiding people with coughs and colds will help reduce the risk of getting bronchitis. If you have a cough, cover your mouth with your sleeve when you cough to reduce the risk of passing it on. Hand washing also reduces the risk of passing on infections.
  • Not smoking will reduce the risk of bronchitis.
  • If you have asthma, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions to keep it under control.

Immunisation

Being immunised against the flu will decrease the risk of bronchitis from influenza. Flu immunisation is available free from your doctor if you are aged 65 and over, or if you have certain ongoing health conditions, such as heart disease, asthma or diabetes. Visit Fight Flu for more information.

Pneumococcal vaccination can decrease the risk of bacterial secondary infection, and is recommended for people aged 65 and over. Visit Pneumococcal disease for more information.

Support to stop smoking

If you are a smoker and would like help to stop, call Quitline on 0800 778 778 or go to the Quitline website.

Source: New Zealand Health9

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You can help prevent the spread of colds.

  • Turn away from others and use tissues when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Wash your hands often and especially before touching food, dishes, glasses and cutlery.
  • Use paper towels in bathrooms.
  • Don't let your nose or mouth touch public telephones or drinking fountains.
  • Don't share food or eating utensils with others.
  • Avoid close contact with others for the first 2-4 days.

Source: New Zealand Health10

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To lower your risk of catching a cold

  • Avoid close contact with people who have a cold.
  • Keep your hands away from your nose and mouth.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after coming in contact with someone who has a cold.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Do not smoke.

Source: New Zealand Health11

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How to avoid spreading a cold

Colds are caused by viruses and easily spread to other people. You're infectious until all your symptoms have gone. This usually takes a week or two.

Colds are spread by germs from coughs and sneezes which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.

To reduce the risk of spreading a cold:

  • wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
  • bin used tissues as quickly as possible

Source: NHS Choices UK12

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How to prevent catching a cold

A person with a cold can start spreading it from a few days before their symptoms begin until the symptoms have finished. The best ways to avoid catching a cold are:

  • washing your hands with warm water and soap
  • not sharing towels or household items (like cups) with someone who has a cold
  • not touching your eyes or nose in case you've come into contact with the virus - it can infect the body this way
  • staying fit and healthy

The flu vaccine helps prevent the flu but not colds.

Source: NHS Choices UK13

Vaccinations: Common Cold

Immunisation

Being immunised against the flu will decrease the risk of bronchitis from influenza. Flu immunisation is available free from your doctor if you are aged 65 and over, or if you have certain ongoing health conditions, such as heart disease, asthma or diabetes. Visit Fight Flu for more information.

Pneumococcal vaccination can decrease the risk of bacterial secondary infection, and is recommended for people aged 65 and over. Visit Pneumococcal disease for more information.

Source: New Zealand Health14

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References

  1. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): newsinhealth.nih.gov/ issue/ oct2014/ feature2
  2. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): newsinhealth.nih.gov/ issue/ jun2012/ feature2
  3. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): newsinhealth.nih.gov/ 2007/ October/ docs/ 01features_02.htm
  4. ibid.
  5. Source: CDC Features: cdc.gov/ features/ rhinoviruses/ 
  6. ibid.
  7. Source: CDC: cdc.gov/ getsmart/ community/ for-patients/ common-illnesses/ bronchitis.html
  8. Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ magazine/ issues/ spring15/ articles/ spring15pg26-27.html
  9. Source: New Zealand Health: health.govt.nz/ your-health/ conditions-and-treatments/ diseases-and-illnesses/ chest-infections-bronchitis
  10. Source: New Zealand Health: health.govt.nz/ your-health/ conditions-and-treatments/ diseases-and-illnesses/ colds
  11. ibid.
  12. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ common-cold/ 
  13. ibid.
  14. Source: New Zealand Health: health.govt.nz/ your-health/ conditions-and-treatments/ diseases-and-illnesses/ chest-infections-bronchitis

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.