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Common cold prevention

There is no reliable way to completely prevent catching the common cold, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk.

Here’s what you need to know to fend off the common cold for adults and children.

Wash your hands frequently for common cold prevention

Your best protection against the common cold and flu is frequent hand washing. Amazingly, many contagious diseases are transmitted by touch. The simple friction that occurs when you rub skin against skin while using hot water and soap, then follow that with thorough rinsing and drying, gets rid of potentially harmful germs.

While viruses are often transferred to others through household objects, telephones, doorknobs, toothbrushes or tap handles, the biggest transportation centre is your hands. That's why frequent hand washing gets rid of illness-causing germs and is thought to help prevent the spread of some diseases, especially if a family member or friend has a cold or flu virus.

The simple act of hand washing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of viral and bacterial infections. Yet studies reveal that many people using public toilets don't wash their hands before leaving. People also forget to wash their hands before preparing meals, and they grab snacks without thinking of hand washing as well.

If you want to help prevent colds, just stop, and wash your hands.

Hand washing is important even after touching your nose or mouth and before eating or handling food.

Catch it, bin it, kill it

The advice from the government's 2009 swine flu campaign remains good advice at any time – to prevent colds and flu from spreading: catch it, bin it, kill it. Always sneeze and cough into tissues. This keeps droplets carrying the virus from spreading in the air and infecting people around you.

Throw away used tissues straight away and wash hands if possible, or use hand gel.

Clean surfaces touched by the person with the cold to keep these surfaces free of germs.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 14, 2016

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