Clogged noses, watery eyes and irritated throats. Who is not afraid of colds in winter? Three out of four citizens suffer from the flu, catch a cold or catch a cold at least once a year , says the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians ( Semergen ). The cold months, although also the changes of season, are the times of the year when it is more usual to catch a cold. Luckily there are some tricks that help to give slip to the colds or, if it is already late, at least recover soon and that their annoying symptoms happen as soon as possible .

1. Sleep well
The restful sleep has many benefits, among which are advantages such as looking an enviable complexion or keep the mind agile and fit. But sleep well, repeat the experts, also helps protect against colds.

A study conducted by the University of California (USA) reveals that the hours of sleep are a determining factor to fall ill and that can mean the difference between catching a cold or not. According to this research, people who sleep less than six hours a day are more likely to catch a cold . And the difference is not minor: those who allow themselves to receive fewer hours for Morpheus (the Greek god of dreams) have up to four times more risk of catching cold than those who rest at a free leg at least seven hours each night.

2. Take care: exercise regularly and eat well
The studies suggest that an active lifestyle with regular exercise, can help prevent infections in the airways. But, besides, not smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, as well as following a healthy diet, are other ways of taking care of yourself while you scare away the dreaded cold.

“Caring for your health with moderate exercise and eating properly are precautions that help to have the immune system at full capacity,” says primary care doctor Javier Sánchez. And these simple habits, he says, can save the typical malaise of the cold and the flu.

3. Wash your hands
Although its name does not sound to us, the rhinoviruses are very familiar to all of us. These tiny beings – there are at least 160 different ones – are the most frequent pathogens for humans. And, yes, they are behind the happy colds that haunt us every winter.

The good news is that anything we do to protect ourselves and avoid being in contact with these tiny but harmful beings will reduce the chances of falling under their influence and catching a cold. Therefore, it is no coincidence that most medical associations and societies recommend washing your hands frequently and using soap and water .

But also, it is advisable not to touch the nose or mouth with dirty hands , because if they are in contact with viruses, they will enter directly into the body and the risk of colds increases exponentially. And, the mantra we all know: try to stay away from other people who are already bad. “The air and contaminated objects are the main routes of propagation of these viruses, so if someone in our environment is sick, we must take extreme precautions, ” says doctor José Antonio Quintano. So to protect yourself, do not share glasses, silverware or the towel with someone who has a cold.

4. Stay away from children, if possible
Colds are very common in children. In fact, are the most common reason for consultation by which parents come with their children to the doctor, notes the Spanish Association of Pediatrics . Why would they get so affected? “First, because they have the virus, because they are in contact with other children who transmit cold viruses in the nursery, school or park,” says pediatrician Juan Bravo.

But there is another reason. The minors, he says, are “green” immunologically speaking , so their defense system is unaware of these microbes, and this makes it easier to infect them for viruses. While an adult catches one or two colds a year, a child can catch a cold five or six. Therefore, parents who have young children are at greater risk of having a cold. For those who are not the case, staying away from them can be an effective way to avoid them.

5. Save money
There is little scientific evidence to confirm that folk remedies against the cold , including echinacea or vitamin C , really help. And if that were not enough, they tend to be expensive.

Experts recommend forgetting antibiotics, since not only are they ineffective for colds, but they can also make the body resistant to them and, therefore, will be less effective when they are really needed.

In return, we can take a decongestant (with prescription from a pharmacist or doctor) alone or accompanied by an analgesic that removes the discomfort. Nasal washes are especially recommended for children .

6. And take it easy
As bad as we feel, we must not forget that colds are a bad passenger. The immune system of a healthy person is perfectly prepared to recover from the cold. And, however bothersome their symptoms, the body has tools to deal with pathogens, so, with a little rest, care and patience, we will recover.