It’s that time of year. Yes, the Patriots are making another Championship run!
Snow is on the horizon and the common cold is rearing its ugly head. After the holidays end, then cold season emerges. The cold is no joke and makes its impact around the world.
- up to 5 million people catch a cold or flu every year
- almost 250,000 people will die from the flue
Part of the reason that the flu hits so hard is the virus changes each year. Flu shots are important because they build antibodies to the expected variations of the flu each year.
However, to prevent cold and flu outbreaks it is good to understand what causes them, any myths around treatments and steps to avoid catching the cold in the first place.
Many people rely on the saying: Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever.
This is a myth according to Dr. Peter Richel, MD, chief of pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital. However, Richel does note that hydration is important and it’s usually a good reason to eat if you are hungry.
Myths About the Common Cold
Cold remedies and treatments are legendary. If something worked for one person one time, then people will find out.
The cold is annoying and prevents people from living their normal life for a few days. We want to avoid the stress and frustration of being tired and blowing our noses.
Here are a few more dos and don’ts that continue to stick around.
Vitamin C Does Not Help
Vitamins are not effective at treating colds.
There is no evidence to show that vitamins have rehabilitating impact. However, drinking extra orange juice helps us stay hydrated, which is important.
For endurance athletes like skiers, long distance runners and military personnel that work in cold climates, then there are some studies that show Vitamin C does help recover.
Antibiotics Do Not Help
Any antibiotics intended to treat colds will not work because they are not designed to fight viruses.
A cold is a virus and antibiotics treat bacteria. Michael Allan, from the University of Alberta in Canada, reviewed the latest information and concluded:
“There’s no real benefit from antibiotics, but they do increase the risk of adverse events like diarrhoea. Your best bet is to try to reduce your symptoms. Over-the-counter pills that combine antihistamines with decongestants or painkillers help relieve some of the nastier symptoms for adults (not children). But even then, the benefits are often modest and probably differ between people, and the particular types of infection they are suffering from.”
Honey Does Help
Studies show that a spoonful taken before bed may provide more relief than standard cough medicine. Although most herbal remedies are not effective at treating common colds, honey does show some promise.
TLC Does Help
Like most things, a mother’s love is often the best medicine. Based on studies that showed doctors that practice empathy while treating their patients lead to quicker recovery times, many experts think traditional TLC helps people recover from colds.
Perhaps the biggest rationale behind some TLC is patience and common sense. The basics like washing your hands, not sharing drinks and resting all help recovery time. This advice is very common amongst parents wanting to see their kids healthy.
However, not all “motherly” advice is effective. Andrew Pekosz, PhD and professor at Johns Hopkins University, explains that the cold temperatures and blustery winds have no direct impact on increased sickness.
Although it is good practice to wear a jacket, this will not prevent colds.
The weather indirectly spurs the winter cold season because people spend more time inside where it is easier for germs to spread.
Keep The House Clean to Avoid Colds
Germs spread through contact.
Winter temperatures means we spend more time indoors. We touch more things and spread more germs. Many indoor places also tend to have poor ventilation.
Tyler Koep, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, estimates that 30% of the viruses flying around the air could be killed by running an air humidifier for about an hour. Keop adds:
“It would be a way of curbing the large outbreaks that occur every few years as the flu virus changes. The potential impact in the cost of work days missed, schools days missed, and healthcare, would be substantial.”
So what are the most common germ transmitters and how to clean them?
- Refrigerator Handles – found to be 5 times filthier than the toilet seat.
- Remote Control – experts suggest using a Q-tip with rubbing alcohol instead of a wipe to get all the cracks.
- Door Knobs and Cabinets – germs and viruses can last up to 24 hours on hard surfaces.
- Cell Phones – check the manufacturer’s advice, but generally safe to clean with electronic-friendly wipes.
- Sponges – to avoid tossing them, wash in high heat over 95 degrees to disinfect them.
- Light Switches – when cleaning avoid spraying directly into the light switch because of the electrical wiring.
Germs tend to remain on hard surfaces, so the everyday items we use throughout offices and the home are prime cold conductors. Be mindful of those surfaces when the cold is spreading through your family or office.
Avoid the Cold with these Simple Solutions
Now that we know the causes of the common cold and what to remedies work to treat our colds, what can we do to avoid the cold virus?
Wash Your Hands!
Not only should you wash your hands to remain in good health, but you need to wash them properly during cold season. Simply rubbing a little soap and water won’t kill the germs.
There are a few tricks to help teach children to wash long enough, one of which is sing Happy Birthday twice.
For adults, then think about the surgical scrub. Ensure that the hot, soapy water is scrubbed all around, including between fingers, around nail beds and up to the elbow for a full 20 seconds.
Keep Hand Sanitizer Around!
Hand sanitizer is a sufficient replacement when soap and water are not available. Check the sanitizer to ensure that it contains at least 60% alcohol because it will help kill the germs.
Do Not Rub Your Eyes and Nose!
During winter, the dry air due to poor air quality tends to irritate our face. In particular, our eyes and nose start to itch. Frequently, we touch our eyes and nose without knowing and any germs on our fingers are easily absorbed.
The main reason advocates stress washing hands is to prevent germs from spreading around your face. Try to avoid rubbing your eyes and nose to be safe.
Hydrate and Stay Hydrated!
As Dr. Richel noted staying hydrated is vital to maintaining a healthy immune system to fight germs that cause the cold.
Simply remaining hydrated is one of the best ways to ward off a cold. Water, or any fluid such as soup, tea and/or coffee, helps flush out your system.
Remember to drink the daily quota of 8 glasses of liquid per day to keep the cold at bay this winter!
Get Plenty of Sleep!
“those who slept less than 7 hours were nearly three times more likely to come down with colds than those who racked up 8 hours of sleep or more…the better the quality of sleep [how deeply people sleep], the more likely the people were to fight off colds.”
Take a Hot Shower!
We learned that the cold is caused by viruses.
Studies show that humid air can be toxic to viruses.
Hot showers act like a humidifier and will help loosen any congestion in your head and chest. The hot shower helps prevent the spread of germs because it hinders the spread of viruses.
Not only is exercise a common New Year’s resolution, but it will help fight off the germs that may cause a cold.
To avoid a cold, attempt to maintain your routine because 30-60 minutes of cardio helps keep your immune system in good working order.
Exercise causes your blood flow and body temperature to rise, which helps your muscles contract and signal your body to store some disease-fighting cells.
Colds may not appear like a house problem, but they are because a home contains people. When we get colds, then we feel rundown, which prevents us from spending some quality time with our families.
Also, as we know, colds are contagious because germs are easily spread on hard surfaces. Many of the high risk areas are household appliances, so our homes are pretty important places during cold season.
Plus, we spend a lot of time inside and in our homes during the winter. Where we spend our time because air quality matters. Rest assured that there are a few ways to improve the indoor air quality in your home or business and SolvIt is here to help! If you have any questions, then let us know.