7 tips on fighting off a cold

November 12, 2012

7 tips on fighting off a cold

We all know that the common cold is caused by a virus or a number of viruses, and most of us know that there is no cure either. However there are many ways to help us carry on when we have a cold. Because of its highly contagious nature colds are around us all of the time, the virus may be in our bodies without us even showing symptoms. Yet when we do succumb there are things we can do to reduce the symptoms and perhaps shorten the time the symptoms are present.

Seven tips to help fight the symptoms of a cold and to raise your immunity are below:

1.Remove all stress from your life

Research has shown that those people subjected to chronic stress are more susceptible to illness. If you have been under stress for a month or more then you are probably more likely to get a cold. The stress could be caused by almost anything from family stresses such as marital issues or problems with sons or daughters. Financial factors may have an affect, worrying how the bills are going to be paid or relating to employment or unemployment. Perhaps you have a job that does not satisfy or suit you or are unemployed and finding it difficult to find any job.

Any of these issues are likely to grind down the individual making them more vulnerable to the cold virus. The research also noted that the longer the stress lasted for the more open to catching a cold the person became, but more positively, a stressful day or week did not appear to produce any adverse effects.

Everyone should learn how to remove stress from their lives and many people find that exercises like yoga or meditation are helpful.


The chair of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, William Schaffer advocates exercise as the answer. He points out that apart from all of the benefits of remaining fit, regular exercise can help cold sufferers return to health quicker for the reason that research has shown that the immune system is strengthened because of regular exercise.

3. Catch up on your sleep

The Archives of Internal Medicine carries a study which substantiates what we all thought we knew all along. That is that we recover better when we sleep well. The study exposed healthy participants to the cold virus and then investigated sleep patterns in relation to time to recovery.

The researchers found that the participants who only managed seven hours sleep or less a night had a far higher probability of becoming ill. The figure was about three times as much as the other participants who could sleep eight hours or more.

And to further reinforce the thought that a good night’s sleep is crucial in any recovery it was found that issues such as waking up throughout the night or having problems getting to sleep had a negative effect. The study found that if people lost between 10 and 38 minutes sleep a night, that’s only 2 to 8% were almost four times more likely to become ill when compared to the sound sleepers who dropped off quickly.

Sheldon Cohen, the Carnegie Mellon University professor of psychology who led the new research commented, “That’s the really striking issue in this study. That even relatively small disturbances in your sleep have a pretty big impact on your susceptibility to getting a cold”. He estimates that the perfect amount of time to get to sleep is ten minutes from lying down to sleeping.

4. Echinacea is losing credibility

When talking about echinaceaWilliam Schaffer is certain that there is no benefit to be derived from taking it. In support of his argument, a study in 2005, published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that taking Echinacea didn’t help with the symptoms of a cold and didn’t stop those exposed to the virus from becoming ill. When compared with a group taking a placebo there was no difference seen. The study carried out the same experiments using three different mixtures using Echinacea extracts.

Schaffer says without any doubt, “Those of us who are in medicine and public-health science think that question has now been put to rest. I certainly am now quite convinced that echinacea is not useful in trying to prevent a cold”.

Schaffer certainly considers that the issue has been proved conclusively but some herbal enthusiasts continue to believe in echinacea, saying that the study did not cover every mixture or dose.

5. Take a little vitamin C – it’s up to you!

Because the research concerning vitamin C has been confusing and ambiguous there are differing views on the usefulness of vitamin C when treating a cold. For every study telling us that it is useful we can find another telling us that it does not work. However Schaffer says that if you do take a little then it won’t harm you. And if you believe that it works, then who knows.

But it must be noted that just because taking a little vitamin C can be good for this does not mean that taking more is better. It is now clear that taking too much vitamin C has negative affects. For example if someone is dehydrated and takes too much vitamin C then they can develop stones in their kidneys and bladders because the vitamin crystallizes in their organs.

6. Get a life

The research carried out bySheldon Cohen and colleagues also noted that the more sociable a person was then the more resilient they were to the effects of cold. If someone had a lot of relationships with people from a broad spectrum of social groups it was found that they had more immunity to the cold virus than those who only had a narrow circle of contacts from a similar background.

This is supported by previous research which has found that those with more social contacts tend to live longer than those who live a life of social isolation. Although some experts believe that it is not the number of relationships that a person has that is important, it is people with high quality relationships that benefit the most, Cohen counters by saying that his findings indicate that both factors can be transposed. He points out that the relationship with a spouse may be high quality but there are also benefits from mingling with others too.

7. Go out with wet hair in the wintertime

Although the older people in our families frowned upon anyone going outside in the winter with wet hair there isn’t any evidence to prove that wet hair and the cold have any links. Schaffner says that just because someone is wet and cold does not make them more vulnerable to picking up the cold virus.

Aaron Glatt, is president and CEO of New Island Hospital in New York and is also a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America and he sums up succinctly by pointing out that the cold virus is all around us and colds are inevitable. He acknowledges that we can do things to help ourselves feel better when we have a cold but not avoid getting it, and ends by saying, “it’s a question of how many”.

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