10 Things Doctors Tell Their Friends About Colds

After working from home, I have recently returned to the office for a three day a week gig, so I have decided that 2015 will be the year that I won’t be sick from the cold. I have researched and found 10 sniffle-fighting advice that doctors’ share with their nearest and dearest.  If you are like me and follow these tips, your pockets will be heavier with the savings gain from not purchasing so many boxes of tissue.

Stand at least three feet away from someone who’s ill

When a person with a cold sneezes, the cold virus can be propelled as far as three feet. If you come in contact with droplets of mucus and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, you’ve been exposed. So stand back! Remember that the cold virus can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours. Wash your hands carefully and as often as possible.

Stuffy nose? Pop a pepper! “

Surprised! Yes I was! A doctor actually prescribed hot peppers to family and friends when they are sick. Why? Peppers are packed with capsaicin, a natural and effective decongestant. Everything from Scotch Bonnet to jalapeños will clear your sinuses. Also eat more garlic, which is a natural immune booster,  oatmeal, which contains the mineral selenium, and black tea, which contains interferon—all of these ingredients help shore up your immunity.

Antibiotics are not the answer

Antibiotics work on bacterial infections, not viruses. Let a cold run its course. The exceptions are:

  • If a fever suddenly appears or rises after about five days of being sick, or
  • if you’re having trouble breathing—which could indicate a complication like pneumonia—then yes, you may indeed need antibiotics.
  • Or, if you start to feel worse or don’t notice any improvement after three or four days, call your doctor to rule out something more serious.

Most likely, you’ll be feeling better by then.

Drink, drink, drink plenty of liquids

Take in plenty of liquids. You can get dehydrated during a cold because you tend to breathe through your mouth. You actually lose bodily fluid that way! To combat this, consume liquids but also foods containing salt (like chicken soup), because they work as an electrolyte to replace minerals you’ve lost due to dehydration.

 There’s a secret to taking vitamin C

Is vitamin C really effective against a cold?  it can be, if you combine it with a workout. A review of studies showed that regularly taking more than 200 mg of vitamin C per day, then exercising, cuts the duration of colds. Check with your doctor before beginning a vitamin C regime—it can cause side effects in some people.  Make sure you’re up to exercising, as well:

  • If your symptoms are above the neck (runny nose, sore throat, headache), it’s okay to exercise as you usually do.
  • If you’ve got chest congestion or a fever, it’s not safe to work out.
  • if you’re feeling really terrible, you don’t want to be snotting all over the machines at the gym

Here’s how to stop a cold from spreading

It’s important to take some very simple steps that can prevent further infection.

  • When family member comes home  with a runny nose, quickly change his/her clothes—it probably picked up lots of germs during the day. My Aunt made it a general rule to change her clothes as she came home to prevent germs from spreading throughout the house.
  • Give your sick family members  their  own set of towels—sharing those, especially hand towels, is a surefire way to spread a cold to others.
  • And of course, wash hands and surfaces regularly.

Being outside in winter is perfectly safe.

In a study, half a group of people got wet and cold, and then were exposed to the cold virus. The other half stayed where it was warm and cozy before being exposed to the virus. In the end, there was no difference in the percentage of who caught a cold! The only association: People tend to congregate indoors during winter—and being close to other people increases the spread of colds

Use natural remedies safely

There’s not really strong data to support many of them; some studies showed zinc could decrease the length of a cold by one day or the frequency of colds, for example, but it’s hard to make firm recommendations because of the diversity in study design. That said, if you want to give it a try, take it in lozenge form instead of using a nasal spray. People have lost their sense of smell, sometimes permanently, from spraying zinc into their noses. Keep in mind too that supplements can interact with other medications, so check with your doctor for what’s safe, even if it seems harmless.

Watch how you touch your nose during a cold

Pinching it during a sneeze forces nasal secretions into the sinuses and may promote sinusitis, which occurs after about 1 percent of colds.  Blow their noses as gently as possible instead to reduce irritation and use antiviral tissues to reduce germs

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