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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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What Puts You at Risk for the Common Cold?

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Day Care

Colds can spread easily in day care, so you'll want to take some extra steps to keep your child healthy.

Teach him to wash his hands the right way. Make sure he gets them wet with water and plain soap and rubs for 20 to 30 seconds. An easy way for him to get the timing right -- sing "Happy Birthday" twice while he washes. Remind him to wash up before eating and after going to the bathroom.

Also follow these tips:

  • Tell your child not to share cups, glasses, and forks and spoons.
  • Keep him at home when he's sick.
  • Make sure he gets enough sleep, eats a healthy diet, and gets plenty of time to play outdoors.
  • Replace his toothbrush and make sure he doesn't borrow one from his brother or sister.

Life in College Dorms

It's easy to catch a cold if you live in a college dorm, where lots of students live in a small space and breathe the same air and touch the same surfaces.

Tell your student to follow some of the same advice he needed back when he was in preschool: Wash hands often, eat healthy foods, and get as much sleep as possible.

Weak Immune Systems

If you've got a weakened immune system, you're at a higher risk for colds. That's the case if you have AIDS, get chemotherapy, or just had an organ transplant.

Make sure everyone in your family is up to date with their vaccines. Your visitors may need to wear gloves and masks so they don't spread their germs to you.

And like anyone who wants to keep germs at bay, try to have a nutritious diet and get enough rest.

Older Adults

When you get older adults you're at more risk for getting colds, and they may stick around longer, too.

To stay healthy, eat right, get plenty of exercise, drink lots of water, and get enough rest.

Wash your hands thoroughly several times a day, and especially before eating and after you go to the bathroom.

Also, replace your toothbrush regularly, and don't be tempted to borrow one from someone else in the family.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on July 14, 2014
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