How to Prevent a Cold

A woman smiling at a bottle of vitamins while sitting at her kitchen table next to fresh fruit.

As its name suggests, the common cold is far too common.

Affecting about a billion people yearly in the United States alone, the common cold is quite synonymous with the fall and winter months. As it seems now, when it starts to get cold outside, everyone is catching a cold.

Although it can affect anyone at any time throughout the year, a cold is most common during the colder months, when many people spend most of their time indoors.

While catching a cold isn’t the end of the world, since most people experience mild to moderate symptoms that eventually dissipate on their own, it can put a damper on your life for upwards of 2 weeks. 

Although there is currently no cure for the cold, there are a few simple ways to reduce your chances of contracting the cold.

Let’s explore the common cold in more detail, including effective ways to prevent a cold altogether. 

First, What Is the Common Cold Exactly?

The common cold is a contagious respiratory virus linked to nearly 200 types of viruses. It is most often caused by rhinovirus.

Those at the highest risk of developing a cold with more serious symptoms are children and the elderly. 

A cold spreads from person to person through the air and close contact. In rarer cases, it has been linked to spreading through direct contact with an infected person’s stools or respiratory secretions.

The cold is contagious from the day of infection until your symptoms resolve completely. 

Cold Symptoms

A cold affects the nose and throat. 

Symptoms can range in severity from mild to severe and can include

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Fever

Symptoms take two to three days to appear following infection and can last up to 2 weeks.

How to Prevent a Cold

Now that we’ve discussed precisely what a cold is, how it’s caused, and the typical symptoms you can expect, gearing up for cold and flu season is crucial to your overall health.

While many people have different theories on ways to prevent illness, some of the most tried and true ways to prevent a cold include

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Not touching your face, especially your nose, eyes, or mouth.
  • Staying away from people who are sick.
  • Eating a well-balanced diet and getting ample sleep to keep your body and immune system in tip-top shape.
  • Taking vitamins, like zinc and Vitamin D, to help boost your immune response.
  • Disinfecting frequently touched areas regularly. 

Cold Treatment

If you or a loved one is living with a cold, it can most often be treated at home by directly treating the associated symptoms and focusing on rest and hydration. 

Some cold treatments may include

  • OTC anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, and decongestants
  • Throat lozenges or a saltwater gargle to relieve a sore throat
  • OTC saline nasal drops or spray
  • A cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier

Effective Cold Care in Southaven

If your cold interferes with your daily life or worsens over time, you should visit Getwell Urgent Care for further diagnosis and treatment. 

It is imperative to seek urgent or emergency care if you or a loved one experience the following:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Symptoms of dehydration
  • A fever that lasts more than 4 days
  • Symptoms that last more than 10 days with little to no improvement
  • Symptoms that improve but then return or worsen, such as a fever
  • Worsening chronic medical conditions caused by the cold 

Don’t delay care. We are open seven days a week. No appointments are required. Simply walk in today to get your cold treated now.