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Colds and Chronic Medical Conditions

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Cold Prevention and Chronic Medical Conditions

While it's sometimes hard to avoid catching a cold, particularly when those around you have colds, there are certain cold prevention steps you can take. Consider the following:

  • Wash your hands. Most cold viruses are spread by direct contact. Keeping your hands clean by washing them frequently can help break up most cold germs.
  • Don't touch your face. Cold viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose, or mouth. Keep your hands away from your face to avoid spreading the cold virus.
  • Exercise regularly.Aerobic exercise helps increase the body's natural virus-killing cells and helps you fight off the cold virus. For people with chronic medical conditions, it's important to talk to your doctor before engaging in an exercise program.
  • Eat nutrient-rich foods. Nutrient-rich foods are those that provide you with the most nutrients for the calories (more bang for the buck!). Some nutrient-dense foods include dark green, red, and yellow vegetables and fruits. Equally important is eating a balanced diet with enough lean protein, good fats, and complex carbohydrates to maintain a healthy immune system.
  • Don't smoke. Statistics show that heavy smokers get more severe colds and more frequent ones. Even being around smoke profoundly zaps the body's ability to fight off the cold virus.
  • Cut alcohol consumption. Heavy drinkers are more prone to initial infections as well as complications from respiratory infections.
  • De-stress. There's some evidence that when you put your relaxation skills into action, your immune system gets stronger. Take time to learn how to relax, and then use what you learn frequently throughout your day.

Cold Treatment and Chronic Medical Conditions

There are cold treatments available over-the-counter and by prescription. However, people with certain chronic medical conditions are more likely to have side effects -- sometimes potentially serious side effects. It's always a good idea to check with your doctor or pharmacist before you take any cold treatment. Make certain that the cold medicine won't interfere with other drugs prescribed for your medical condition. In addition, some drugs may cause side effects such as spikes in blood sugar levels or an increase in heart rate or blood pressure.

Some cold medications may thicken mucus, making it difficult to cough it up. This is a serious concern for those with asthma, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis. Understanding side effects is vital to finding a cold treatment that will not worsen your chronic medical condition.

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