If you sat next to someone on your way to work this morning who was sneezing uncomfortably close to you, coughing unnecessarily in your direction, or putting their snotty hands all over the hand rails that you have no choice but to share with them, you have every right to be worried about catching their nasty cold germs.
But rather than being resigned to the fact that you will imminently develop a cold, transforming from the sneezee to the sneezer, there are some tips you can try to stave off the snot and fight the flu.
Wash your hands regularly
According to Dr Andrew Pekosz, a microbiologist at Johns Hopkins University, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from getting a cold or the flu is to simply wash your hands “thoroughly and frequently.”
Use antibacterial soap and scrub all areas of your hands, including your palms (for when you’ve gripped dirty handles or doors that the snot gremlins have touched), the backs of your hands (especially important if you’ve been the victim of crammed tube passengers, who have nowhere else to aim their coughing and spluttering except in the direction of your nice clean arm that’s holding on to the rail for dear life), and in between your fingers and thumbs (for when you’ve held hands with your poorly partner or shaken hands with a serial sneezer).
Say no to another drink
A study conducted by BMC Immunology has found that alcohol impairs the ability of our white blood cells for up to a whole day after we’ve enjoyed ourselves with a few beverages on a night out with friends. Aiming to reduce your alcohol intake, especially during the cold and flu season, will greatly enhance your chances of fighting off these illnesses.
Don’t believe what you C
Many people think that Vitamin C helps to fend off colds and the flu, but no significant research exists to back this wild rumour. Not only will Vitamin C let you down when you place desperate hopes on it to prevent you becoming ill, a variety of studies also found that Vitamin C will not speed up your recovery if you’re already feeling rough.
Stay in bed longer
This one sounds nice, doesn’t it? According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, when your body is deprived of decent sleep it produces too many proteins (that go by the evil name of ‘cytokines’) that kick you while you’re down and trigger cold symptoms when you’re sick.
Eat your colours
Brightly coloured fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants that boost your immune system by going into battle with the free radicals that weaken your body’s natural defences. If you like healthy food, great, if you don’t, try to work out which you hate more, green food or the similarly coloured substances that you generate when you have a cold.
By Glen Walter – Follow me on Twitter: @GlenWalter27