November 11, 2022

How to Prevent a Cold When You Feel it Coming On

The common cold is miserable and predictable. As an adult, you can expect to get two to three colds each year. Children catch even more, particularly during those germy school years. While a cold is not a serious ailment, it is the primary reason that children miss school and adults miss work. Plus, they are just painful, often causing runny noses, coughing, sore throats, sneezing, headaches, and body aches.

Despite the statistics, you are not helpless in preventing and fighting colds. If you are wondering what to do when you feel a cold coming on, read the following tips.


Keep the Air Moist

You will stay healthier if you breathe moist air. Fall and winter air can dry out your nasal passages, allowing the hardy virus to embed in your sinuses and develop into a nasty cold. To prevent this problem, buy a humidifier and use it when the air starts to dry out. It will keep your nasal passages moist and help them to trap and expel harmful germs.

If you are already experiencing symptoms, a humidifier is still useful. It will help relieve your stuffy nose and dry, scratchy throat.

Do Not Touch Your Face

You are probably not aware of how often you touch your face. Studies suggest that people touch their faces approximately 16 times each hour. During the cold season, that means you are likely to introduce the virus into your system through your eyes, nose, or mouth. You’ll be more likely to stop a cold before it starts if you wash your hands frequently and keep them off of your face.


Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential to good health, and it certainly helps fend off the common cold. A JAMA study showed that people exposed to the rhinovirus who got fewer than seven hours of sleep nightly were three times more likely to get a cold than subjects who got at least eight hours. If you already have a cold, sleep will help you feel better and also battle any accompanying infections. Making sleep a priority this winter will help you stay healthier.


Take Time to Destress

When you feel tired and run down, you are at a higher risk of catching a cold. Stress will trigger your body to create too much cortisol, a hormone that can make your immune system less able to fight off infections and viruses.

If you are feeling physically out-of-sorts, take time to take a walk, have lunch with a friend, or go to a yoga class. Destressing will help you prevent a cold and also improve other aspects of your health such as your blood pressure.

Avoid Sick People

You are not being selfish when you avoid sick people, including your family members. Your health should be a priority, so stay away from those with an illness unless you are their primary caretaker. Even then, limit your exposure as much as possible and practice frequent hand washing.

During prime cold and flu season, consider having your groceries and other necessities delivered. If you have to mix with others, keep a healthy distance and wash your hands frequently and well. Separation from others is no fun, but neither is a full-on cold.

Take Zinc Lozenges

Take zinc lozenges within 24 hours of experiencing symptoms to significantly reduce the length of a cold. Research shows that taking 9-24 mg of elemental zinc per dose has the best effect. You should take a dose every two hours during the day for up to two weeks. Do not take intranasal zinc because it can cause a permanent loss of smell.


Disinfect Home Surfaces

Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces can help stop the spread of colds among your family members. Kitchen counters, doorknobs, bathroom vanities, and refrigerator handles are all teaming with germs. Use a safe but effective spray disinfectant to wipe out those germs before they can be transferred from your hands to your face.

Don’t Forget the Vitamin C

Not all supplements work to fight illness. Vitamin C does not prevent colds but it can shorten them slightly if you have been taking it before the start of your cold symptoms. If you begin once you feel a cold coming, vitamin C will not affect your symptoms at all. It has to be a long-term practice to help. And for most people, vitamin C supplements are not necessary because they get enough by consuming fruits, vegetables, and berries in their daily diets.

Do Not Overuse Cold Remedies

When you are considering how to prevent a cold when you feel it coming on, your first instinct may be to buy several cold remedies and take them every few hours. While cold remedies such as nasal sprays, cough medicines, and cold tablets can make you feel better in the short term, excess use can make you feel worse. Decongestant sprays, in particular, can delay your recovery. Using them more than three or four days in a row can cause your nasal membranes to swell more, impeding your breathing and increasing your discomfort.


Wear a Face Mask

In many parts of the world, people have long worn masks to protect themselves and others from the spread of illnesses. The pandemic may have made you weary of this practice, but research shows that wearing a mask is a great way to reduce the spread of colds and the flu. Consider using a face mask when you are going to be in an enclosed area with others or when you are ill.

Final Thoughts

The common cold can make you miserable and cause you to miss work and other activities. In truth, you will probably catch a cold this year. The odds are not in your favor. But taking precautions can help you prevent multiple colds or at least shorten their duration. By being proactive, you can have a much healthier fall and winter this year.


The information featured in this site is general in nature. The site provides health information designed to complement your personal health management. It does not provide medical advice or health services and is not meant to replace professional advice or imply coverage of specific clinical services or products. The inclusion of links to other web sites does not imply any endorsement of the material on such websites.

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Posted in: Flu Treatment