Unfortunately, the beauty of fall is also beset with coughs, sneezes and, for some, allergies. The transition to fall often leads to an increase in bouts of the common cold. The theory is that viruses like the rhinoviruses or coronaviruses replicate more easily in the cool—but not too hot—weather. The common cold is then caught during this season when the viruses multiply and spread.
How do we minimize catching a cold?
- Wash your hands often: cold viruses can make their residence on skin for two hours at the least
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth
- Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day
- Eat regular, balanced meals to boost your immune system
- Get enough sleep (at least 6-8 hours)
- Exercise to sustain a healthy immune system
- Reduce emotional and physical stresses, which lower the body’s immune system
- Try to avoid frequent contact with surfaces like doorknobs and bathroom faucets.
You can differentiate the common cold from an allergy if the cold symptoms (typically lasting 7-10 days) last several weeks to months (usually lasting as long as the sufferer is exposed to the allergens). Those with allergies should take extra precautions during the emergence of fall, because their immune systems are already weakened.
COOL FACT: The term “hay fever” was coined when farmers collected hay at the end of summer, becoming sick with colds as a result of their exposure to the allergens in the fields.
Natural supplements, like vitamin C, Echinacea and zinc have been shown in studies to be ineffective in preventing the common cold or curing it, despite popular assumption. There is evidence that taking natural supplements, like vitamin C, Echinacea, zinc, elderberry and probiotics, at the earliest onset of a cold, can reduce the length of an illness by an average of 2-4 days.
You can prevent spreading your seasonal cold with a few good hygiene practices:
- Sneeze or cough into your elbow
- See a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve
Take care during the transition into the cooler months and you will increase your chances of remaining healthy. These tips for optimum well-being can also help prevent the onset of the flu in the winter months.