Smart Moves for Battling A Winter Cold

By Martin Brown

It doesn’t take any particular talent to catch a winter cold. With cold rains, chilly temperatures, more of us staying inside with windows shut circulating stale air like a long cross country jet flight, our chances of catching a winter cold abound.

What takes some doing, and some planning, is avoiding colds, sore throat, and the flu at this time of year. So what can you do to increase your odds of staying well, and decrease the chances that you’ll find yourself with a case of the crud before winter’s icy grip melts into the start of a new spring?

1. Begin with taking better care of yourself.

Know that at this time of year colds are easy to catch so you should think proactive, not reactive.

2. It’s important all year long to eat a healthy diet, but at no time of year is it more important than it is during the winter months.

Particularly during the holidays when most of us are around many more friends, and family.

3. At this time of year I’m very aware of washing my hands frequently.

More importantly try to be very aware of when you shake someone’s hand or open a door and then moments later touch your hand to your eye. That’s rolling out a red carpet for a winter cold. Here’s a simple example: Shake hands with someone who has become infected with a cold but is in a pre-symptom stage. Then pick up a Christmas cookie, put that hand on it, pop it in your mouth, and there’s a reasonable chance you just infected yourself.

There’s lots of ways to do the same thing, and unless you’re going to become a full-fledged Seinfeld “germaphobe,” you have to accept some degree of risk, so here’s what you can do:

4. At a holiday party don’t nibble continuously.

Clean your hands, take a plate, eat your food, then go back to shaking hands and so forth. Don’t want to break away to wash your hands? That’s fine too. Just carry a small, purse-sized hand sanitizer. Next, be very aware of moving your hands to your lips, or your eyes, that’s a great way to implant a cold in a hurry.

5. Even when you’re at home, again, wash your hands frequently.

If you sleep with forced heat in your home blown in by a central furnace, try to set the timer to go off during the late night. Warm, moist rooms are far more hospitable to germs than cold dry ones. Cold air and an extra blanket will reduce, not increase, your chance of catching a winter cold.

6. On top of those simple steps, remember that there is no more important time of year to do those things that help to keep us healthy.

Eating a sound diet, more fruit and vegetables, and less fats and carbs; taking a multiple vitamin, and stay active. Avoid chills, but also avoid getting overheated. If you’re not getting a healthy amount of exercise because of the winter weather, join a gym, and take some yoga, and aerobic exercise classes. If you use machines like treadmills, wipe them down with disinfectant before you jump on and grab hold of the handrails. Any gym worthy of your membership will provide disinfectant spray bottles and paper towels.  

Sure, colds happen. But you don’t have to be a sitting duck. Get a flu shot, stay alert, eat healthy, and stay strong. The payoff: a sneeze free winter this year!


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