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How not to get sick when everyone around you already is. Helen Foster finds out more.
Did you know one sneeze somewhere crowded like a railway station escalator could infect up to 150 people in as little as five minutes via people breathing in the droplets or touching those that land on the handrail. However, for that bug to then turn into sneezes, sniffles and misery it has to (a) enter your body and (b) get past your immune system unscathed. Some women never get sick so what can you do to be like them?
Keep your nose warm
Dr Ron Eccles from the UK's Cardiff University is one of the world's most eminent cold researchers. He points out a new theory as to why we catch more colds in winter, "Our nose is colder then, and that cooling of the nose lowers resistance to infection." So, if it's really chilly, place a scarf over your nose to keep it warm.
Try not to lie
Feeling guilty has been shown to lower your immune defences but, also, the body language a person uses when lying can increase their chance of spreading germs. "The average person tells four lies a day. One of the major giveaways is that the person touches their nose, face and eyes, which during flu season increases the chances of you passing the bug into your system," says TV doctor Dr Andrew Rochford. A clever tip? Painting your fingernails red may keep your hands away from your face as it helps you spot when your fingers are getting near your face.
Boost your vitamin D
According to research from Greenwich Hospital and Yale University School of Medicine in the US, you're twice as likely to come down with
a cold if you're exposed to the bugs when levels of vitamin D in your blood are low. If you live in Australia's south, the Cancer Council suggests boosting your vitamin-D by getting the sun on your face, hands and arms two to three hours a week. If you suspect you're still deficient, ask your doctor to test you in case you need a supplement
Keep your hands clean
Dr Charles Gerba from the University of Arizona points out that we're the 'touch generation'. "We touch more communal surfaces than any generation in history and the hand is quicker than the sneeze in the spread of disease," says Gerba. Some of the most touched items include ATMs, lift buttons, escalator handrails, gizmos in places like technology stores and pens in the bank. Avoid touching these where possible or at least scrub up or use antibacterial hand gel soon afterwards.
Invest in a humidifier
The dryer the air, the more likely it is that you'll pick up a flu bug, say researchers at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine. They're not completely sure why but say it could be because flu virus droplets collect more water in humid air and simply fall to the floor faster. This makes us far more likely to breathe them in or pick them up on our hands.
For the full story, see the June issue of Good Health. Subscribe to Good Health and receive 12 issues of Good Health & 6 FREE issues of The Australian Women's Weekly that's 18 issues for just $69.95!