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How to beat the common cold

Kieri Karpa, Layout Manager

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As cold and flu season approaches, experts have tips on how to stay healthy. Once someone is sick, there are a number of tricks experts have to getting better faster. (Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Every mother in the world has told their kids “put on your jacket or you’ll get a cold,” and science says there may be something to the old wives tale.

Though the actual sickness of the cold and flu is caused by a virus, a recent study has found that the temperature may affect how liable a person is to get a cold. Although there are many factors involved in becoming sick, there are things a person can do to avoid getting sick or to get better faster.

The sickness that humans call a cold is caused by a rhinovirus, according to Popular Science.  Rhinoviruses are viruses that replicate faster in “cooler environments, such as the nasal cavity, rather than at the cozier core body temperature.”

In fact, the ideal temperature for the cold virus is between 91 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Discover Magazine. However, at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, virus reproduction drastically slows.

Likewise, according to FOX News, researchers have “discovered that outbreaks of respiratory infections like the flu and respiratory syncytial virus—a virus that causes cold-like symptoms—began during each year’s first low-humidity, below-freezing week.” In layman’s terms, as the temperature drops, people tend to get sick.

Not only does the virus become stronger in colder temperatures, but the immune system also works worse. A team of researchers from Yale discovered that at warmer temperatures, “immune pathways that block viral growth are more active, and an enzyme that degrades the viral ­genome works better.” These findings “indicate that exposure to cold air might lower our bodies’ ability to fight the common cold,” according to Discover Magazine.

But no one wants to be sick in the first place. Wearing a jacket and wrapping a scarf over the nose can help ward off a cold by warming up your nasal passages, but there are other ways to avoid getting sick.

Two common tips are to wash your hands often and avoid touching your nose and eyes. Besides these, medical professionals have other tips that most people don’t know.

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are 5 major tips, besides washing hands and avoiding touching the eyes and nose, that can help people stay healthy.

The best way to avoid getting sick is to get vaccinated. The CDC says that “every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently.” Because of this, getting a flu vaccine every year can help the body create antibodies against this year’s strain of the virus and prevent people from contracting the virus.

Keeping healthy habits can also prevent sickness. The CDC says people should “get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage [their] stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.” This helps to keep the body at its’ peak level of performance, so it is easier to fight sickness.

Another tip is to avoid contact. If someone is sick, it is best for them to rest away from other people to avoid spreading the virus, warns the CDC. During the cold and flu season keeping distance from others can not only protect you, but it can also protect them.

But once someone is already sick, there is some advice for how to get better faster. The Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit organization that does research to contribute to a healthier society, has a number of suggestions on how to get better faster, though there is no cure.

First of all, the Mayo Clinic says to rest. Nothing will help someone get better faster than resting and giving their body time to fight the virus and heal itself.

Another major tip is to deal the pain. Whether that is muscle and joint aches or soreness in the throat, the Mayo Clinic says that combating the pain is definitely going to help someone feel better and get better faster.

For muscle and joint aches, they suggest taking ibuprofen as directed by the bottle. Their sore throat remedy is salt water, ice chips, lozenges, sprays, and hard candy. Gargling warm salt water can help soothe a sore throat for a time, and ice chips, lozenges, sprays, and hard candy help to keep the throat moist and lined.

Whether someone is healthy, getting sick, or sick, staying warm and listening to expert advice can help people get and stay healthy this cold and flu season.

For more tips to beat the cold check out these websites:

YourHealth.net

St.JosephHealth.org

Mass.gov

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