Monday, September 24, 2018

5 Surprising Facts About Spreading the Common Cold

by Abergele Jones (writer), , February 15, 2014

Woman blowing nose into a tissue

It’s cold outside, and colds are spreading indoors. If you’ve caught a cold this winter, you’re probably doing your best to keep the cold from spreading to your colleagues and loved ones.

However, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not as easy to spread a cold as you may believe. Every year, scientists uncover new facts about how diseases and viruses spread, so even if you’re a nurse who thinks she knows everything about medicine, you’ll benefit from going back to school to find out what’s changing in the field. Discover the truth behind some common myths, and you’ll be better equipped to stop the spread of cold viruses this season.

They Spread Before You Seem Sick

Someone in the family’s sniffling and coughing, so now’s the time that everyone keeps their distance, hoping to stop the spread of the cold. However, when it gets to this point, you’ve probably already been exposed. Colds are most easily spread before you show symptoms. If someone in the family mentions that a person at work or school is sick, take extra precautions for at least a week, as it may be two to three days after someone’s caught a cold before she shows symptoms. During those few days when she seems well enough, she’s spreading the cold virus to everything she touches.

Being Cold Won’t Affect You

Although shivering with cold is uncomfortable, it doesn’t make you more susceptible to catching cold viruses. Dress in layers and keep warm to keep your body from losing heat, but don’t fret about catching more colds in the winter and while forgetting about them in the summer. One possible reason for the misconception that more people catch colds in the winter is because the cold drives people to spend more time indoors in close contact with each other, not because the temperature itself has an impact.

You Need to Spend Hours With the Virus

While it’s a good idea regardless to wash your hands thoroughly before eating at all times, you don’t have to rush to wash your hands after coming in contact with someone who seems like he might have a cold. In general, you need to spend several hours with someone who’s sick to get contaminated. Cold viruses need warm environments to thrive, and they’ll die off if their new host only is exposed to a small number of the virus indirectly. Most colds you catch you get from family members, roommates, classmates and colleagues because of the length of exposure you have with them

You Catch Fewer Colds As You Age

If it seems like your kids, grandchildren, nephews and nieces get sick more than any of the adults you know, don’t blame the schools for being environments where viruses thrive. Although sharing space with other contaminated children is one reason for the spread of germs, children get more colds than adults because their immune systems aren’t as developed. As you age, you can look forward to an average of one cold a year because your immune system has come in contact with so many viruses in your life, it can fight off colds for longer. Children can expect as many as eight colds a year, according to KidsHealth.

Antibiotics Don’t Help

Somewhere along the line, people have mistaken antibiotics as a “cure-all” that medical professionals should give out whenever someone’s not feeling well. Even some medical professionals forget that you can’t turn to antibiotics for everything. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses, and are most effective at treating and preventing infections. A cold virus is not an infection. Not only will antibiotics not help your cold, but taking them for reasons beyond their intended purposes contributes to the antibiotic resistance problem. Because people rely on antibiotics so much, they’re becoming less effective as bacteria learn to fight back.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports there are over one billion cold viruses in America during an average year. While there’s nothing you can do to become completely immune, understanding how colds viruses are spread is the first and most effective defense. To keep colds at bay, drink and eat plenty of drinks and foods rich in Vitamin C, wash your hands thoroughly, try to keep your stress levels down, and stop giving credence to a few common myths.

About the Writer

Abergele Jones is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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