Simple tricks to keep winter colds at bay
Updated: 2011-01-19 07:55
With a little luck, washing your hands frequently, hardening your body's defenses and keeping a healthy room climate is all that you need to get through the winter without catching a cold, according to Ursula Sellerberg, spokeswoman for the Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists.
You should wash your hands several times a day if you want to prevent colds, soaping them - also between the fingers - for about half a minute, Sellerberg advises.
"Disinfectants aren't usually necessary," she adds.
Colds are caused by viruses, which are transmitted via objects touched by a number of people - doorknobs and banisters, for example. Hand washing cuts off this path of infection. You should also touch your face with your hands as little as possible so as to keep viruses away from your mouth, nose and eyes.
"Someone with a cold should not sneeze into their hands, but rather into a handkerchief or, when there's no alternative, a sleeve. This prevents infecting others," Sellerberg notes.
You can harden yourself with alternating warm-and-cold showers, which stimulate the body's defenses.
"Always end with a gush of cold water. This triggers the important warming-up reaction," Sellerberg advises. If you are averse to showering warm and cold from head to foot, you can simply douse your arms or lower legs.
A home cold-water treatment also has a hardening effect. Fill a tub with cold water and step in it stork-like for two minutes. Always begin with warm feet. Regular sauna visits are an additional stimulant for the immune system and walks outdoors in cold weather bolster the body's defenses, too.
But you should bundle up well in a scarf and cap to keep your body from cooling down too much.
Although a lot of people like it to be warm and cozy indoors during the wintertime, heating-system air in homes and offices dries out the body's mucous membranes.
"This makes it easier for cold viruses to invade the body," Sellerberg says.
What is more, the number of viruses can easily multiply in closed rooms, so homes or offices should be ventilated for 10 minutes, three to four times daily. This creates a healthy room climate.
Ideally, the room temperature during the winter should not exceed 19 or 20 C.
German Press Agency
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