Cold comfort

The common cold makes us all feel uncommonly under the weather! With the sniffles season looming, here’s how you can help yourself avoid the dreaded lurgy

While we still have Covid in our lives, there’s the added spectre of the cold season looming large. The odd sniffle is inevitable, especially as the lurgy circulates around schools, there are some tips you can take that might just minimise the misery. 

Warm it up – Shivering depresses the immune system, making it more likely to catch a cold. The easiest way to prevent this happening when you go out is to wear a hat. As we lose up to 30 per cent of our body heat through our heads, donning a hat is really a no-brainer! 

Keep an eye on the weather – Ok, so we can’t spend winter being hermits, but just be aware that the weather out there can have a big say on making us feel grotty. Dull, misty, moist conditions raise the level of germs in the air and allow viruses to survive longer. This is the time when you’re more likely to catch something. 

Hand hygiene – If one positive thing has come from Covid, it’s made us all aware how important personal hygiene really is. Never have so many bottles of hand gel been sold as in the past 18 months! Is there anyone out there who now doesn’t know that washing hands often – and drying them on disposable paper towels – can significantly reduce the chances of catching a virus? This is especially true in avoiding the rotavirus, which tends to infect children and causes vomiting and diarrhoea. Use soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. 

Keep your distance – Stay away from anyone who is sick, and if you are sick just stay home to prevent spreading your illness. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue – or if you don’t have one, use your sleeve. It’s not rocket science! 

Bin it, kill it – If you have a runny nose remember the mantra ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’. Catch any sneezes in a tissue, bin any tissues immediately and kill the virus by washing your hands with soap and warm water or use a hand gel. 

Booster power – Make sure you get the vitamins you need, especially vitamin D (essential for teeth and bones and helps resistance against winter bugs), vitamin C (boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation as well as fighting fatigue) and iron (helps produce haemoglobin in the red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs around the body and boosts energy levels). 

Get in zinc Zinc helps fight colds and boosts flagging immune system. Meat, eggs, seafood, tofu, black-eyed peas and wheat germ are great for zinc. Garlic also helps easing chest complaints and small amounts taken daily may also reduce the frequency of colds and flu. 

Eat your greens – Green, leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins that help you maintain a balanced diet and support a healthy immune system. And how about swapping sandwiches for soup at lunchtime? Drinking any warm liquid – tea, soup or stew – helps relieve symptoms by loosening congestion and stimulating the flow of mucus.

Water works – We should all drink eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy, according to the health professionals. Water helps the kidneys function properly and flushes out the toxins that accumulate in our bodies.

Sleep well – We all lead busy lives but the less sleep we have, the more likely we are to become ill. There’s no way round it, a regular eight hours a night is good for us. 

Last but not least – Get a flu jab. Flu is not just a severe cold, it’s a completely different and highly infectious virus that kills around 8,000 people a year. The most vulnerable groups are older adults, very young children and people with underlying health conditions – so check if you’re eligible for a free jab. There are different flu jabs available so chat with your GP for more advice.