Published on December 19, 2017

Avoid a cold this winter with help from Essentia Health

You may not be able to avoid the cold weather headed our way, but with a few simple measures, you may be able to stave off the dreaded cold virus.

"Cold weather itself does not cause colds or the flu.  Viruses do," says Dr. Kevin Stephan, who is the head of medical specialties and infectious disease at Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center.  "However, cold weather can do a couple of things to promote the spread of colds and flu."

Dr. Stephan says the cold weather brings people into closer contact with each other, facilitating the spread of viruses that cause these illnesses.  And, while it's not the most pleasant topic, cold weather increases the production of mucus which, in turn, can increase nose blowing and coughing, making the spread of viruses easier.

"To avoid exposure to a cold virus, I recommend limiting close contact with people who are obviously sick, displaying symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and blowing their nose," Dr. Stephan says.  "Also, avoid touching your eyes and nose, and if you do, wash your hands promptly after doing so."

He suggests that you avoid touching shared objects, such as surfaces on keyboards, phones and door knobs, as well. 

"One of the best ways to avoid getting any kind of bug is to boost your immune health by getting plenty of sleep, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and quitting smoking," Dr. Stephan says.  "Also, remember to keep a positive outlook.  Reduce negativity and stress as much as possible to keep your mind and body healthy."

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