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Health & Safety

The common cold is caused by a viral infection in the upper respiratory tract (i.e., the nose and throat). Exposure to many people increases the likelihood of exposure to the virus that causes a cold. Generally a cold lasts approximately one week to 10 days in healthy adults and can occur two to three times a year. The virus can spread in the air, by hand-to-hand contact, or by sharing contaminated objects including utensils, towels, toys, or telephones.

The Mayo Clinic recommends preventative measures be taken along with common-sense precautions to slow the spread of the common cold. First and foremost, wash hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water. If soap and water are not available then use a hand sanitizer. Infectious germs from the common cold can spread, so be sure to clean and disinfect the home environment, including kitchen and bathroom countertops, household handles and doorknobs, and children's toys. Be sure to use tissues when coughing or sneezing, discard tissues right away, and then thoroughly wash hands. When tissues are not available, cough or sneeze into the bend of the elbow to eliminate the use of hands. Eliminating the use of hands when coughing or sneezing can reduce the spread of germs. There is not a vaccine or antibiotic for the common cold, but home remedies can help relieve the symptoms. Try to stay as comfortable as possible by drinking plenty of fluids, resting, adjusting the room's temperature and humidity, soothing the throat, and clearing nasal passages.

Lastly, be sure to take care of yourself to prevent getting the common cold. Boost the immune system. Eat well, drink plenty of water, get enough exercise and sleep, and manage/reduce stress levels to keep colds away.