How to prevent cold and coughing

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Tips to help prevent a cold​

It is not always possible to avoid getting a cold or other respiratory tract infections that can lead to a cough, but the following tips can reduce the risk:

  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick: A person should maintain a safe distance from people who have a head cold, flu, or cough.
  • Washing hands regularly: A person should use soap and warm water to remove bacteria and viruses from the skin. Parents and caregivers can teach children how to wash their hands properly. A person can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer outside the home when necessary.
  • Using disinfectant: When a family member is ill, a person should clean the kitchen and bathroom regularly with a disinfectant and wash bedding, towels, and soft toys on a hot wash.
  • Staying hydrated: A person should make sure to drink enough water, herbal teas, and other beverages to help prevent dehydration.
  • Reducing stress: Stress affects the immune system and increases the risk of getting sick. To alleviate stress, a person can exercise regularly, meditate, do deep breathing, and try progressive muscle relaxation techniques.
  • Getting enough sleep: A person should aim to sleep for 7–9Trusted Source hours each night as part of their regular self-care routine.
  • Taking immune-boosting supplements: A person may consider taking zinc, vitamin C, and probiotics during cold and flu season to boost their immune system. Prior to starting new supplements, a person should talk with a doctor.
Allergy symptoms can sometimes mimic those of a cold. A person can reduce allergy flare-ups by avoiding triggers such as pollen, dust mites, animal dander, and mold. Also, a person should see a doctor about getting allergy shots or medications.

How to prevent coughing​

When dealing with a cold or other respiratory tract infection, a person may want more immediate relief. While some of the above remedies, such as honey or steam, may help more immediately, others do not work as quickly.

Some additional steps a person may find helpful for reducing their cough include:

  • drinking warm fluids such as broth or teas
  • avoiding dairy products
  • avoiding alcohol
  • breathing in moist air from shower steam or a humidifier
A person may also find some relief with over-the-counter medications, such as those containing dextromethorphan or cough drops. These can help suppress a cough.
 

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