There is no sure way to prevent colds, especially in children. As children grow into adults, they naturally get fewer colds.
The following may help protect you against catching colds:
- Wash your hands often, especially when you are around people with colds.
- Stop smoking. Smoking irritates the mucous membranes of the nose, sinuses, and lungs, which may make them more susceptible to infections.
- Keep your stress levels under control. If you are exposed to cold viruses, a high level of stress may increase your chances of catching a cold.
- When you have a cold, avoid sneezing without covering your mouth. Also avoid spreading nasal secretions on your hands.
- Use disposable tissues rather than a handkerchief.
Colds can't be prevented with:
- Antibiotics, which also will not prevent complications.
- Large doses of vitamin C, zinc or other vitamins and minerals
- The flu vaccine, which only protects against the influenza virus
Treating a cold
Symptoms of a cold
Causes of a cold
Reviewed by Dr Marvin Hsiao MBBCH MMed MPH, Division of Medical Virology, Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, University of Cape Town. February 2015.
(Previously reviewed by Dr Eftyhia Vardas, University of the Witwatersrand 2011)