Common cold

  • Alternative Names

    Upper respiratory infection - viral; Cold


    Prevention

    Here are five proven ways to help lower your chances of getting sick:

    • Always wash your hands: Children and adults should wash hands after nose-wiping, diapering, and using the bathroom, and before eating and preparing food.
    • Disinfect: Clean commonly touched surfaces (such as sink handles, door knobs, and sleeping mats) with an EPA-approved disinfectant.
    • Choose smaller daycare classes: Attending a day care where there are six or fewer children dramatically reduces the spread of germs.
    • Use instant hand sanitizers: These products use alcohol to destroy germs. They are an antiseptic, not an antibiotic, so resistance can't develop. A little dab will kill 99.99% of germs without any water or towels.
    • Use paper towels instead of sharing cloth towels.

    The immune system helps your body fight off infection. Here are six ways to support the immune system:

    • Avoid secondhand smoke: Keep as far away from secondhand smoke as possible. It is responsible for many health problems, including colds.
    • Avoid unnecessary antibiotics: Using antibiotics too often leads to antibiotic resistance. The more you use antibiotics, the more likely the medicines may not work as well for you in the future. That means, you have a higher chance of getting sick with longer, more stubborn infections.
    • Breastfeed: Breast milk is known to protect against respiratory tract infections in children, even years after you stop breastfeeding. Kids who are not breastfeed get about five times more ear infections than those who are.
    • Drink water: Fluids help your immune system work properly.
    • Eat yogurt: Certain yogurst contains "active cultures," or beneficial bacteria that helps prevent colds.
    • Get enough sleep: Not getting enough sleep makes you more likely to get sick.

    References

    Turner RB. The common cold. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 53.

    Simasek M, Blandino DA. Treatment of the common cold. American Family Physician. Feb 2007:75(4).

    Shah SA, Sander S, White CM, Rinaldi M, Coleman CI. Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis. Lancet Infect Dis. 2007;7(7):473-80.

    Hemilä H, Chalker E, Douglas B. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD000980.

    Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD001364.