All of us have experienced catching the common cold at one time or another. Brought about by viruses, the common cold’s symptoms include sore throat, coughing, runny or stuffy nose and mild fever. It is easy to think that we all know everything about the common cold, but there is more than meets the eye (or nose) with this ubiquitous ailment. Here are 7 things you never knew about colds.
7) You are more likely to catch germs from a phone’s keypad than a used tissue.
Studies have shown that cold-causing viruses inside droplets of moisture are dispersed (and thus neutralized) more easily on fabrics, tissues and other soft materials. On hard nonporous surfaces, however, like glass, metal or the scratch-resistant polycarbonate of an iphone, the viruses remained intact. The next time your sniffling cold-infected friend wants to show you her new baby’s pictures on her phone, offer to hold her handbag while she does the scrolling on her phone.
6) Exercise is your best defense.
Did you know that there is no vaccine for the common cold? That is right, there is no shot you can get or medication you can take that will make you immune from the distressing combo of a scratchy throat, heavy head and runny nose. In several surveys, though, it has been found that fitness enthusiasts are much less likely to experience common cold symptoms. Doctors hypothesized that regular exercise mobilizes white blood cells and put them on high alert for invading pathogens.
5) You will recover quicker on cold weather.
Have you ever noticed that winter colds usually go away after a few days while colds in the summer stick around for weeks? Part of the reason is that they are caused by different types of germs. Cold-causing viruses like the Rhinovirus survive best in cooler weather while the enterovirus seems to thrive from June to October. Some experts say another reason why summer colds last longer is because we are constantly exposed to re-circulated air (like in air-conditioned rooms) which dries out the lining of our nostrils, giving an open port to viruses.
4) Ignore all those folk remedies except one.
Hot toddies, garlic in cognac, orange juice… all these folk remedies have no scientifically proven value. In fact, alcohol can actually make you worse by messing with the sleep you badly need. One folk remedy seems to work though: honey. According to a study published in 2012, honey aids in relieving nighttime cough symptoms in children over 1 year old. Researchers say that honey seems to acts like a soothing moisturizer to the dry irritated lining of your throat.
3) Your symptoms are a blessing to other people.
You are most likely to pass on your cold 2-4 days after they first manifested. So in a way, the coughing and sneezing are your body’s way of communicating to other people that you are contagious and it is best that they keep their distance. The next time someone gives you a dirty look for coughing, tell them that you are actually doing them a favor by broadcasting the warning that you are infectious.
2) It is okay to drink milk.
It is a widely held belief that drinking milk will increase mucus production. Easing up on dairy until your cold goes away will not only not help, it could actually backfire. Doctors explain that the vitamin D you get from milk can provide your body with energy while it is fighting off pathogens. Not only that, the milk that you drink also keeps your tissues hydrated. Finally, vitamin D helps keep your immune system working optimally by promoting cell growth.
1) You can’t catch the same cold twice.
Getting sick from the same cold twice is very unlikely as your body will have developed antibodies and immunity against that particular strain of the virus. Unfortunately, you can still get infected by the other 200-plus viruses floating around. This is the reason why last year’s flu shot may not necessarily protect you from the strains going around this year.