Colds: Can you lessen the number you have a year? Expert shares 5 ways to reduce risk

Lorraine: Dr Hilary busts cold and flu myths

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Firstly, Ahlerup recommended: “Wash your hands frequently and bin any tissues immediately after use.

“Practising good hygiene to keep germs and viruses at bay should be second nature by now. In addition, keep the spread of germs and viruses to a minimum by not only washing your hands, but disinfecting your home, car, and surfaces where applicable.”

Keeping every surface clean has been what many have been doing since the Covid-19 pandemic forced us all to take extra care.

Ahlerup’s second tip is similar to the Covid social distancing rule: “Be aware of your surroundings. If yourself or others are displaying cold symptoms then it’s important to keep a sensible distance and to avoid crowded places to help prevent the cold virus spreading.”

However, what if a person shares a house with someone who has a cold, what should they do then?

The advice is to avoid sharing any items or objects a person would normally share, such as mugs.

Furthermore, Ahlerup adds that people should avoid “touching your eyes, nose, and mouth if you have come into contact with someone showing signs of a cold virus where mucus may be present”.

As well as distancing oneself from those with symptoms and maintaining good hygiene, Ahlergup says it’s important that people listen to their bodies, to “ensure you’re also taking care of your body by exercising and eating a balanced diet”.

On supplements, Ahlergup is sceptical of their effectiveness.

He said: “The NHS states there’s little evidence to support the use of supplements such as vitamin C, garlic, or echinacea in the prevention of colds or as a way to speed up recovery.

“Instead of looking for ways to get rid of your existing cold, taking a look at protective measures to stop a cold in the first place.”

Five ways to reduce your risk of a cold:

  1. Wash your hands frequently
  2. Be aware of your surroundings
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth if you have come into contact with someone showing signs of a cold
  4. If you live with someone who has a cold, avoid sharing any items.
  5. Listen to your body.

Meanwhile, in another field of scientific development, researchers have made a breakthrough with rejuvenation.

Scientists from the University of Cambridge have been able to rejuvenate the skin cells of a 53-year-old woman so they are the equivalent to those of a 23-year-old.

This development isn’t important for skin care, the researchers think the same might be possible with other tissues in the body with the overall aim to be able to treat conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and maybe even neurological issues.

Professor Wolf Reik, head of the team at the Babraham Institute, said they hoped it could increase a person’s health span – the length of time they are in good health as they grow older.

“We have been dreaming about this kind of thing. Many common diseases get worse with age and to think about helping people in this way is super exciting,” commented the professor.

Although the results are exciting, Professor Reik is keen to stress the work is in its earliest stages; the work is currently limited to lab testing.

Nevertheless, he said: “The long-term aim is to extend the human health span, rather than the lifespan, so that people can get older in a healthier way.”

The next step is to experiment on other cells such as the muscle, liver, and blood cells.

Should this and the next steps prove successful, the future of getting old could be set to change.

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