Guess what. Cold season is upon us. According to health officials, cold/flu season runs from October to early spring, peaking in February.
So listen up, I want to make sure you stay healthy, kay?
1. Wash your hands twice every time you wash them. When Columbia University researchers looked for germs on volunteers’ hands, they found one handwashing had little effect, even when using antibacterial soap. So wash twice if you’re serious about fending off colds.
My two cents: You might want to make sure you have a tube of hand lotion on you, too. With all of that hand washing, your skin is going to turn dry and flaky in no time.
2. Use this hand-drying strategy in public restrooms. Studies find a shockingly large percentage of people fail to wash their hands after using a public restroom. And every single one of them touches the door handle on the way out. So after washing your hands, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet. Use another paper towel to dry your hands, then open the door with that paper towel as a barrier between you and the handle. It sounds nuts, but it’s an actual recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control to protect you from infectious diseases like cold and flu.
My two cents: I’ve been doing this for years. In fact, public restrooms completely gross me out and if I can get away with not using one, I will.
3. Use your knuckle to rub your eyes. It’s less likely to be contaminated with viruses than your fingertip. This is particularly important given that the eye provides a perfect entry point for germs, and the average person rubs his eyes or nose or scratches his face 20-50 times a day.
My two cents: Yep, I do this.
4. Run your toothbrush through the microwave on high for 10 seconds to kill germs that can cause colds and other illnesses. You think it gets your teeth clean — and it does. But once you’re done brushing, your toothbrush is a breeding ground for germs. Sterilize it in the microwave before you use it, or store it in hydrogen peroxide (rinse well before using), or simply replace it every month when you change the page on your calendar and after you’ve had a cold.
My two cents: Are they crazy?? Put your toothbrush in your microwave? So that you can consume all sorts of toxins from the plastic? DO NOT MICROWAVE YOUR TOOTHBRUSH.
Honestly, what were they thinking? Boil your toothbrushes (don’t leave them in the water longer than 30 seconds or they will begin to melt) or better yet, boil them AND soak them in hydrogen peroxide. I do this to our toothbrushes once a week. (Probably should do it more often, actually).
5. Put a box of tissues wherever people sit. Come October, buy a 6- or 12-pack of tissue boxes and strategically place them around the house, your workplace, your car. Don’t let aesthetics thwart you. You need tissues widely available so that anyone who has to cough or sneeze or blow his nose will do so in the way least likely to spread germs.
My two cents: This is actually a pretty good idea. How many times have we “sneaked” a wipe with our hands because there weren’t any tissues around.
Oh come on, we’ve ALL done it.
6. Lower the heat in your house 5 degrees. The dry air of an overheated home provides the perfect environment for cold viruses to thrive. And when your mucous membranes (i.e., nose, mouth, and tonsils) dry out, they can’t trap those germs very well. Lowering the temperature and using a room humidifier helps maintain a healthier level of humidity in the winter.
My two cents: No problem with that here. In fact, our house is always so cold that I’m usually pretty numb by the time I have to leave to pick up the boys from school. (*Sigh* I wish I were kidding).
7. Sit in a sauna once a week. Why? Because an Austrian study published in 1990 found that volunteers who frequently used a sauna had half the rate of colds during the six-month study period than those who didn’t use a sauna at all. It’s possible that the hot air you inhale kills cold viruses. Most gyms have saunas these days.
My two cents: Oh SUUUURE. We all have access to a sauna, right? Pfft.
8. Inhale air from your blow-dryer. It sounds nuts, we know. But one study conducted at Harvard Hospital in England found that people who breathed heated air had half the cold symptoms of people who inhaled air at room temperature. Set the dryer on warm, not hot, and hold it at least 18 inches from your face. Breathe in the air through your nose for as long as you can — 20 minutes is best.
My two cents: You lost me at 20 MINUTES?! Are you insane? Who has time to stand around for 20 minutes and breathe? And who wants to pay for the extra electricity this will generate, hhmm?
9. Take a garlic supplement every day. When 146 volunteers received either one garlic supplement a day or a placebo for 12 weeks between November and February, those taking the garlic were not only less likely to get a cold, but if they did catch one, their symptoms were less intense and they recovered faster.
My two cents: My folks SWEAR by this one. In fact, they take garlic everyday. And I’ve read other places that garlic is really good for your immune system. And I wish I could do this, but the husband has a VERY sensitive sense of smell and even though you can buy “odorless” garlic, he still smells it and it grosses him out. Since I like keeping my husband close, I guess I’ll have to forget about this tip.
10. Change or wash your hand towels every three or four days during cold and flu season. When you wash them, use hot water in order to kill the germs.
My two cents: I’m going to get slammed for telling you this, but we don’t use hand towels, we use paper towels. *sigh* I know. Wasteful, right? But I have to tell you folks, we’ve had a lot fewer colds since using paper towels than we have had using hand towels. I also don’t use a washcloth to wipe my kitchen down either, I use sponges. And then I throw them away once a week. It works for us!
11. Eat a container of yogurt every day. A study from the University of California-Davis found that people who ate one cup of yogurt — whether live culture or pasteurized — had 25 percent fewer colds than non-yogurt eaters.
My two cents: Yogurt is not only good for preventing colds, it also keeps the happy doctor away (ladies, you know what I mean, right?) I’m a big proponent of yogurt. Go yogurt! Or is that Go-gurt? hehe
12. Wipe your nose — don’t blow. Your cold won’t hang around as long, according to a University of Virginia study. Turns out that the force of blowing not only sends the gunk out of your nose into a tissue, but propels some back into your sinuses. And, in case you’re curious, they discovered this using dye and X rays. If you need to blow, blow gently, and blow one nostril at a time.
My two cents: I’ve been doing this for years. But not because I thought it would help me not catch colds but because whenever I blow too hard, I get a sinus infection each and every time. So now? I wipe – a lot. My nose pretty much stays red all the time in the cold months.
13. Don’t pressure your doctor for antibiotics. Colds and flu (along with most common infections) are caused by viruses, so antibiotics — designed to kill bacteria — won’t do a thing. They can hurt, however, by killing off the friendly bacteria that are part of our immune defenses. If you’ve used antibiotics a lot lately, consider a course of probiotics — replacement troops for friendly bacteria.
My two cents: Since I never go to the doctor, this one doesn’t really apply to me. 🙂