The common cold is one of the most prevalent infectious diseases among adults and children worldwide, and a primary reason for taking sick leave from work and school. It is also a leading cause of doctor visits. On average, children have six to eight colds per year, while adults have two to three.
Fortunately, this disease of the nose and throat caused by viruses – most commonly, rhinoviruses – is highly preventable. The simplest and best way to prevent the common cold is to wash your hands frequently, say experts.
A cold spreads through the air and through close contact with a sick person. Tiny virus-filled droplets from a cough or a sneeze can land on surfaces such as computer keyboards, phones, doorknobs and handrails, and infect anyone who touches them.
To reduce your risk of getting a cold, wash your hands often with soap and water, the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
Other prevention tips include:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth – through which the virus can enter the body – with unwashed hands.
- Regularly disinfect frequently-touched surfaces such as doorknobs and light switches, and objects such as toys.
- Avoid people who are sick.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
How to wash your hands properly:
- Wet your hands and apply soap.
- Rub your soapy hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds, paying special attention to the areas between the fingers and under the fingernails.
- Rinse your hands thoroughly and dry them completely with a paper towel or an air dryer.
Can vitamin C prevent a cold?
Taking 200mg of vitamin C – about four oranges worth – has not been found to reduce your risk of developing a cold, but it may reduce the duration of cold symptoms by an average of 8 per cent in adults and 14 per cent in children, according to Harvard Health publication, quoting researchers.
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