The common cold – it has affected all of us at one time or another. In fact, the average adult suffers from between two and five colds every year!
There is no denying that colds seem to be even more prevalent in the winter months. But have you ever noticed that some people seem to be constantly ill while others appear relatively immune?
So why do some people suffer from frequent colds? And what can you do to prevent them?
What is a Cold?
The term “cold” is used to describe a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract (the nose and throat). This happens when a virus invades your body, causing your immune system to spring into action.
A complex chemical reaction is triggered, summoning white blood cells to the area to neutralize the threat. As these white cells work to destroy the invading virus, they cause the side effect of inflammation. It is this inflammation which causes the familiar symptoms of a sore throat and blocked or runny nose.
The average cold can last anywhere from a few days to a week. However, if you develop a more serious infection the symptoms can last much longer.
Why do I Keep Getting Colds?
The most simple reason why some people suffer from frequent colds is that they have more exposure to the viruses that cause them. People who work with the public, especially children, are often more prone to catching colds.
Having a weak immune system is relatively rare and is usually associated with more serious conditions such as being HIV positive. However, it is thought that people who are overweight or under a lot of stress might also be more at risk from picking up frequent colds and infections.
If you are suffering from regular coughs, sneezes and a runny nose, it might be worth checking whether an allergy could be responsible. Keep a note of when your symptoms are bad to see whether there is any pattern, and consult your healthcare provider to talk about allergy testing.
Natural Remedies for Colds
Once you get a cold, the best medicine is rest. Drink plenty of fluids and try to eat a healthy diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to give you a much needed boost of vitamins and minerals.
Foods high in vitamin C and zinc may be especially beneficial. These include citrus fruits, bell peppers and leafy greens for vitamin C, and shellfish, organic meat and poultry, nuts and seeds for zinc.
To relieve nasal congestion, boil a kettle and pour the water into a large bowl or basin. Add a few drops of menthol or eucalyptus oil and inhale the steam. For a sore throat, try gargling with some salt water or drinking a soothing cup of warm water with honey and lemon juice.
There are also a number of things you can do to help prevent frequent colds. Wash your hands regularly, especially if you have been in contact with somebody who is unwell, and do not share cups, utensils or towels.
If you have a cold, cough and sneeze into a tissue and immediately throw it away and then wash your hands to prevent your infection from spreading.
Taking regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep may also help to keep your immune system functioning well and keep colds at bay. Another useful natural remedy for colds is acupuncture.
Acupuncture for Colds
Acupuncture can help with cold symptoms in a number of ways. It reduces inflammation which is responsible for many of the symptoms of colds including stuffed up noses, sore throats and aches and pains. It also improves circulation and reduces swelling.
Acupuncture can also help to enhance immune function, meaning that if you suffer from frequent colds, it could be an ideal way to boost your immunity and prevent infections. It is traditionally thought that if you go for an acupuncture treatment as soon as your cold symptoms begin, it could help to reduce the time and severity of the illness.
Acupuncture is also an extremely relaxing treatment, meaning that if you are feeling stressed out and run down, it offers a great way to unwind and improve your general well-being.