I've had more colds in the past year than I've had in my entire almost 36 years of existence - no exaggeration.
September - first cold of the academic year.
November - had a cold which turned into laryngitis and lost my voice for almost three days. (Yes, the world was a quieter place for a brief spell).
December - had a cold which turned into a chest infection.
February - had strep throat which had started off as cold.
April - had a cold.
At the time of writing - I have, yup, you guessed it, a cold. It is currently sitting in my chest and every now and again I hock up an impressive amount of phlegm. Beautiful.
It has been highly frustrating and has left my wondering what has happened to the superior immune system I once boasted? I used to laugh in the face of those afflicted with the common cold. Pah! Common cold? Not I! Nothing brings the Ginger Warrior down! Well, apparently it does.
So what better subject to post about this fine snotty day than tried and tested ways to keep pesky colds at bay? It's unlikely you'll find anything new and revelatory, it's all fairly straight forward and common sensical but if, like me, you find yourself held hostage in Phlegm City on a regular basis, then any advice/reminders/tips surely wouldn't go amiss.
Why do I find this one so, darn hard?? This is most definitely the biggest bone of contention when it comes to Craigy Boy and I - I'm a night owl and rare is the occasion that I'm in bed before midnight. Craigy on the other hand likes to be all snuggled up by 10.30pm at the latest. This could explain a) why he gets less colds and b) why he look so darn good for his age! (That and the small fortune he spends on Clinique products.)
It's no secret that a good night's sleep helps to keep our immune system in tip top condition and results from scientific studies back this up:
A no-brainer, so you'd think, but I still can't believe how many people I see go into a toilet cubicle, do their business, exit the cubicle and walk straight out the door. Their business is now your business as soon as you touch the door handle. Proper hand washing is a free and highly effective way to prevent germs spreading from one unsuspecting soul to the next and according to health experts this is the way to do it:
I'm not sure I'm quite so through and vigorous (20 seconds to wash and another 10 to rinse??) but maybe I ought to be and perhaps it's my lacklustre approach to hand washing that is responsible for my recurring colds.
Scrub, scrub, scrub my soapy Warriors!
The benefits of Vitamin C in saving us from the sniffles are well-documented (and debated) but did you know that regular Zinc supplements could reduce the number of colds we catch and how long they last? It is thought that the zinc may work by preventing the rhinovirus from multiplying and from lodging in the mucous membranes of the throat and nose. I forgot that the common cold was called the rhinovirus. Sorry, I can't come in to work today, I have a rhino in my nose.
Well, it made me laugh anyway.
Cold germs and viruses can survive on surfaces for hours so why not grab a bottle of disinfectant and give tabletops, toys, remote controls, door knobs e.t.c. a good, old spray down? Don't obsess, however - you're never going to keep a house completely sterile. What's more, according to the hygiene hypothesis, exposing children to a certain level of dirt and grime is both beneficial and essential since it promotes the development of a healthy immune system. So don't panic if your cherubs swallows a mouthful of dirt with a couple of worms thrown in for good measure - they're simply building up immunity for later in life. Mud pie, anyone?
The hustle and bustle of hectic modern day living can wreak havoc on our poor old immune system. If it could speak to us it would be saying "take it easy buddy, I can only keep going at this pace for so long before I need a serious time out". That serious time out is when you become ill: it's your immune system seeking revenge for pushing it too hard, for too long. Why do we do it to ourselves? When did it get to the stage that our default state of being is feeling frazzled and wiped out? There's a monumental difference between working hard and working yourself into the ground. My advice, for what it's worth, is step back and ask yourself: WHO are you doing it for? Who is thanking you for your excessive toil and labour? Not your health and well-being, that's for sure! Take some time off, go for a run along a beach, treat yourself to that long overdue spa treatment, change direction in life. DO SOMETHING to give yourself some breathing space and time to reflect and take stock. You're a long time dead so there's no point in sending yourself off to an early grave.