Understanding the Common Cold -- Prevention

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on March 29, 2021

How Can I Prevent the Common Cold?

A strong immune system is the best defense against the common cold. It may not keep you from getting infected, but you'll recover more quickly. Boost your body's natural resistance by eating well, getting adequate sleep, not smoking, and drinking plenty of water every day.

Minimize contact with people who have colds and wash your hands often. Airborne droplets from sneezes or coughs are the most common mode of spreading this virus, so facemasks can help prevent infection. Don't share towels, silverware, or beverages. Cold viruses survive for as long as 2 hours on doorknobs, on money, and on other surfaces. Wash your hands frequently and properly.

When you have a cold, do your best to keep it to yourself. A hearty sneeze can carry your cold virus up to 12 feet away/. Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze into your elbow. Your hand can transmit the infection -- so wash up.

A vaccine to prevent the common cold has been difficult to make, primarily because there are more than 200 different varieties of viruses that can cause colds.

WebMD Medical Reference



National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Common Cold." 

Palo Alto Medical Foundation: "The Common Cold." 

University of Virginia Health System: "Upper Respiratory Infection (URI or Common Cold)." 

National Jewish Medical and Research Center: "Getting Well When You Have a Cold or the Flu." 

FDA: "Colds and Flu: Time only Sure Cure." 

American Lung Association: "A Survival Guide for Preventing and Treating Influenza and the Common Cold."

Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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