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First, get some perspective on what your trusty hand sanitizer can . . . and cannot do.  Contrary to what you may think, hand sanitizers will not help protect you from a cold. Dr. Jahn explains that hand sanitizers are bactericides and are temporarily effective against bacteria and fungibut they do not kill viruses. Since a cold is a viral infection, applying a hand sanitizer has little protective effect, and some of the cold virus remains on your hand. While you should try to minimize touching your face, there is no need to “sanitize” every time you touch a door knob.


“The door knob isn’t the main enemy,” says Dr. Jahn, “rather, try to stay away from anyone who sneezes. The micro droplets that are sprayed into the air with every sneeze, especially if someone doesn’t cover his or her mouth when they have a cold, fan out in a wide arc and breathing those in is more likely to produce a cold than a door knob. This even applies when walking down the street and around the corner into an oncoming sneeze!


Since the cold virus invades your nose, not your hand, along with your hand sanitizer, carry with you a plastic, squeeze bottle of Ocean® Saline Nasal SprayIf you’re around someone who has a cold and you’ve made “contact” by breathing the air around him/her, simply spray into each nostril and very gently blow your nose. The saline supports the nasal linings’ self-cleansing mechanism which helps to eliminate germs and irritants that you may have breathed in, explains Dr. Jahn. This is a good idea after traveling on public transportation, too. Flushing the nose periodically is a simple and effective survival tactic.


Stop blaming the weather for your cold, says this expert. Freezing temperatures and fluctuations in temperature do not produce a cold. You need to be exposed to the cold virus. So, if you wear a nice, wooly scarf for warmth, pull it up around your face for protection from your fellow travelers who may be infected with the cold virus.


And, for people who develop sinus infections regularly, using a product that exerts “positive” pressure when sprayed into the nose, such as that found in Ocean® Complete Sinus Irrigation, can help remove bacteria from sinus openings, hopefully before they have a chance to migrate further into the sinus cavity. In fact, a study* that examined saline nasal rinses found that positive pressure is more effective at dislodging bacteria from sinus openings than a passive Neti pot “wash,” or negative pressure such as sniffing.


From his experience with patients, Dr. Jahn says “daily use of Vitamin C is a well established practice among ear, nose and throat doctors to help boost one’s immune system. Zinc is also very helpful, not as a preventive, but if you already have a cold,” says Dr. Jahn. “Zinc may help by shortening the duration, reducing the symptoms and making you less contagious.  If you feel good about taking Echinacea there’s nothing wrong with it, but among ENTs, there isn’t a lot of support for its efficacy,” he says. ”And,” he concludes, “be kind to your friends and fellow workers. If you have a cold, stay home, if possible, to cut down on spreading it. Tell someone before you shake hands that you’re not feeling well. They’d much prefer to avoid a cold if forewarned.”

– Anneka Ranpuria

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