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Common colds and flu are more common during fall and winter, but they do occur even in summer. Fortunately, there are easy ways to avoid getting a respiratory infection this year. These include practicing basic hygiene and having a healthy lifestyle.

Summer is a great time to relish good times with family and friends. It is usually the best season to go out and enjoy nature, to travel, or just to hang out in cool places. So the worst thing that can probably happen at this festive time of the year is to get a summer cold, which can ruin a planned vacation and spread an infection to your family and friends.

There are more than 200 viruses that can cause the common cold. Of these, the rhinovirus is the most common type that infects people of all ages. Colds and flu often spread during school season and peak during the winter season. However, it can occur any time of the year. Although it is not as bad as flu, colds can bring on symptoms like a stuffy or runny nose, incessant sneezing, sore throat, cough, watery eyes, mild headache, and mild body ache. These symptoms may be mild and short-lasting, but in some, they can last for up to two weeks. Now that can really take away some of the fun you could have in summer, especially if you were planning to take a vacation away from home.

Fortunately, a summer cold is something that can be easily prevented.

Ways To Avoid A Summer Cold

Make it a habit to always wash your hands.  You are usually not aware where you got your germs. This is why medical experts and other health care providers cannot overemphasize that washing your hands as much as you can is the most important way to prevent common infections such as colds and flu. It is also the simplest, most inexpensive way to prevent an epidemic that can start from hospitals, schools, and other public places. The most important times to remember to wash your hands is after going to bathroom, after coming in from the outside, before eating or preparing meals, after using tissues, and of course, whenever your hands look dirty. Make sure to wash well for at least 20 seconds,  scrubbing the backs of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under the nails. Use a paper towel to dry your hands.

Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Most of the time, we cannot run to the bathroom every time we feel we need to sanitize our hands. It is therefore a good idea to reach for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to kill cold and flu germs if you don’t have soap and water. You can put a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse, in your work area, and in your children’s bags. Just make sure that the alcohol used consists of at least 60 percent alcohol.

Keep cold and flu germs off away from common surfaces. Colds and flu viruses can easily pass from people or from surfaces to you. In fact, it is estimated that about 80 percent of contagious diseases are transmitted by touch. Common surfaces that have a great potential for harboring and spreading germs include telephones, computer keyboards, faucet handles, doorknobs, sinks, and pens.  Use alcohol-based antiseptic wipes to regularly clean your desktop, phones, doorknobs, remote controls, and other common surfaces every day.

Keep your hands away from your face. You may forget to wash your hands often, and touching your face is the surest way to bring the germs closer to your body. Cold and flu viruses usually enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth. Touching the face with contaminated hands is the major way people catch colds, as well as from kissing or talking closely to another.  As much as possible, avoid kissing, shaking hands, or having close contact with someone who has a cold or respiratory tract infection.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • CDC. Common Cold and Runny Nose. http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/URI/colds.html
  • WebMD. Stay Healthy This Year: 6 Tips for Avoiding Cold and Flu. http://symptoms.webmd.com/cold-and-flu-map-tool/avoid-cold-flu
  • WebMD. Cold and Flu on the Rise? How to Prepare. http://symptoms.webmd.com/cold-and-flu-map-tool/get-ready-cold-flu-season
  • WebMD. 8 Natural Tips to Help Prevent a Cold. http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/11-tips-prevent-cold-flu
  • UTMC. 5 Ways Nutrition Can Prevent Cold & Flu (And Treat Them!). http://www.utmedicalcenter.org/news/370/5-ways-nutrition-can-prevent-cold-flu-and-treat-them
  • WebMD. Natural Cold and Flu Remedies. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/colds-flu-immune-system?page=2Photo courtesy of fromdarkheaven via Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/fromdarkheaven/2145815346
  • Photo courtesy of CarbonNYC [in SF!] via Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/255533368
  • www.cdc.gov
  • www.webmd.com
  • www.utmedicalcenter.org