Everything we hear on the news today is related to COVID-19, but how about colds and flu? They didn’t vanish… They are still with us, lurking freely. No one wants to catch a cold, and since these days are pretty harsh and several coronavirus signs and symptoms are quite similar to the common cold, some would think they’ve contracted COVID-19.
Basically, if you caught a cold, you might want to stay in the comfort of your home, isolated from the outside world. Because no matter how much effort we put to stave off sniffles, colds always catch us by surprise, and instead of being judged (that’s what most people would do, assuming that you’ve contracted COVID-19, not the common cold), just remain indoors.
However, you can also prevent that by avoiding several mistakes. Certain things (and activities) tend to increase your risk of catching a cold, so why not minimize it? Let’s find out together the mistakes we’re making that put us at a higher risk of getting frequent colds.
1. You don’t wash your hands properly
We don’t have to highlight the importance of hand-washing, but it might be useful to point out what you must do to wash your hands like pros. According to a family medicine doctor at Duke Health in Durham, North Carolina, Matthew Mathias, MD, you should wash your hands with warm water and mild soap for at least 20 seconds.
Proper hand-washing is the first thing to do to prevent common colds, as well as COVID-19.
2. You spend way too many hours in front of the TV
As a general rule, if you have a 9-to-5 job, you’ll most likely binge-watch your favorite Netflix series when you get home. This means that you’re not getting enough sleep. A lack of sleep can affect your immune system, the first barrier in fighting off colds.
Sleep expert Richard Shane, Ph.D., says that sleep deprivation can actually decrease the number of white blood cells and antibodies. In fact, numerous studies suggest that people with sleeping issues tend to catch a common cold more often than those who get enough hours of sleep.
3. You always take the elevator
Taking the stairs rather than the elevator is more beneficial for your health. In fact, Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, and the author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, says that moderate exercising is essential when it comes to minimizing your chances of catching a cold.
First of all, exercise improves blood circulation. Secondly, it also gives you an energy boost. And because regular physical activity increases the number of white blood cells, you might want to avoid taking the elevator. Plus, all elevator buttons are filled with germs and bacteria.
4. You’re shopping too often
Are you planning a shopping spree this evening? You might want to reconsider that… Especially when that evening happens to be on Black Friday or during the holidays. This is probably the biggest mistake you could possibly make nowadays.
Malls and all kinds of stores tend to get really crowded during the holiday season, which translates to a high likelihood of catching a cold. That’s because people go shopping no matter if they are ill or not. So, are you willing to take any risks? Hope not…
5. You’re picking the wrong hand sanitizer
You don’t actually need to buy (and use) antibacterial hand sanitizer to stay away from colds because viruses, not bacteria, cause colds. The worst part? Antibacterial products such as soap and hand sanitizer could destroy good bacteria too.
When you don’t have access to water and soap, the CDC says it’s best to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer rather than an antibacterial one. Partha Nandi, MD, a gastroenterologist in Detroit, Michigan, says that your hand sanitizer should contain at least 60 percent alcohol.
6. You’re a close talker
Try to avoid standing within, let’s say, five feet of someone who is sick. Also, keep the conversation short. The longer you stay, the higher the chances of getting a cold. In general, it’s best to keep your distance because you can’t really tell if a person is ill or not. Take COVID-19, for example… Some people are asymptomatic.
7. You bite your nails
Stop biting your nails! It’s a bad and rude habit that could bring you more than just the mockery of others. You could end up with a cold by biting your nails. According to Dr. Mathis, nail-biting, therefore face touching, welcomes micro-organism to enter your body via eyes, mouth, and nose.
Under your fingernails, there could be a ton of micro-organism that can easily invade your system when biting your nails.
8. You drink that extra glass of wine
Dr. Shane says that alcohol consumption can affect your sleep quality significantly. As we’ve mentioned previously, catching enough Zzz’s is crucial to prevent illnesses, and if alcohol interferes with them, it’s best to leave that extra glass of wine.
Studies suggest that alcohol consumption could block the REM phase of sleep, forcing you to wake up way too early. Avoid large amounts of alcohol if your want to stave off sniffles!
9. You’re eating way too much sugar
We know… sugar tastes heavenly, and this could be pretty addictive. The white stuff affects more than just your weight; it could have negative impacts on your immune system, too. Sugary things can destroy the balance of intestinal flora found in the gut. And when you’re not taking proper care of it, you’ll experience a weakened immune system.’
So, yeah, eating way too much sugar can really raise your odds of catching a cold.
10. You don’t wipe down gym equipment
Are you working on your summer body? Well, good for you. But do you wipe down the fitness equipment found at the gym? It might be annoying, especially when the clock is ticking and you also have to work on those legs, but it’s the best for everybody.
Imagine how many people used those dumbbells before you… There’s a possibility that one of them is sick. Don’t skip your gym-cleaning routine just because you think it’s safe. Wipe down everything you want to use and wash your hands.
In addition, it’s a good idea to bring your own bottle of water rather than using the water fountain.
11. You’re stressing too much
Ever wondered what stress does to your body? Along with sweat, digestive issues, sadness, insomnia, headaches, acne breakouts, type 2 diabetes, and many more, stress can also make you sick. Studies have shown that those who are under too much stress are actually more prone to catch a cold than those who aren’t.
According to Erika Martinez-Uribe, MD, Piedmont Physicians Internal Medicine in Newnan, GA, psychosocial stressors can maximize someone’s susceptibility to illnesses. This is particularly true when it comes to heart disease and infections like the common cold.
12. You forget to clean your desk
Yes, you wash your hands properly, but it’s pointless if you don’t wash the items you use every single day, too, such as the keyboard, mouse, smartphone, pencils, notebooks, and other things. Did you know that our hands are actually the most common way of transferring micro-organisms from individual to individual?
Just think how many items you touch in one day. Doorknobs, windows, elevator buttons, bathroom sinks, chairs, TV remotes, cell phones… are all filled with micro-organisms. Cleaning the everyday items is essential in order to reduce the spread of disease.
13. You’re a clean freak
Yes, being too clean can affect your health, too. There’s a fine line between a clean enthusiast and a clean freak. Cleaning way too often; therefore, washing your hands constantly and harshly can eventually lead to skin breakdown. This can make you more susceptible to germs.
Dr. Mathis points out that the skin is actually a living organ, and if you want to do its job properly, don’t wash and rub your hands until they crack.
14. You don’t snuggle enough
We know… You might assume that snuggling leads to catching germs and viruses, but according to studies, it appears that hugging does wonders for your health. In a study, participants who received more hugs were less likely to catch a cold when exposed to viruses.
15. You don’t drink enough water
Ahh, water… it can do so many things for us. From helping us stay clean to keeping our bodies hydrated, water can also decrease our chances of getting ill. When you don’t drink enough of it, dehydration shows up, leading to poor quality sleep, low energy levels, and affecting your body’s natural ability to remove toxins.
All of these translate to a weakened immune system, making you more prone to catching a cold. In fact, not only colds but a wide range of health problems such as chronic fatigue, premature aging, weight gain, unbalanced pH, urinary tract infections, and even brain damage.