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What can you do to protect yourself from colds and flu?

Colds are extremely difficult to prevent entirely.

The following suggestions may help:

Wash your hands well and frequently 1

Wash your hands with soap and water after touching someone who has a cold, after touching an object they have touched, and after blowing your nose. 2,3

If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser especially when someone in your family has a cold. 3 If a child has a cold, wash his or her toys after play. 2

Avoid cigarette smoke 1

You are more likely to catch a cold and to have a more severe cold if you smoke. 3 Cigarette smoke and nicotine suppress your immune system and make you more vulnerable to infections. 4

Use a tissue 3

Do not inflict your cold on others! Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then discard the tissue straight away and wash your hands carefully. 2,3

If you don’t have a tissue on hand, sneeze or cough into the bend of your elbow so that you cover your mouth without using your hands. 3

Don’t touch your face 1

Keep fingers away from your nose and eyes to avoid infecting yourself with cold virus particles you may have picked up. 2

Avoid contact with sick people 1

Avoid close contact with people who have a cold, especially during the first few days when they are most likely to spread the infection. 2

Take care of yourself 3

Prevention focuses on strengthening the immune system by eating a healthy diet low in sugars and high in fresh fruits and vegetables, practicing meditation to reduce stress, getting adequate sleep, and getting regular moderate exercise. 1,3

Disinfect your stuff 3

Clean kitchen and bathroom countertops and door handles with disinfectant, especially if someone in your family has a cold. 3 If a child has a cold, wash his or her toys after play. 2

Don’t share 3

Don’t share drinking glasses, utensils or towels with other family members when someone is sick. 2,3

References: 1. Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Common Cold. [online] 2016 [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: 2. American Lung Association. Facts About The Common Cold. [online] [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: 3. Mayo Clinic. Common cold. [online] [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: 4. Doyle WJ, Cohen S. Etiology of the common cold: Modulating factors. [online] 2009 [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL:

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