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How to Prevent the Common Cold

The Common Cold & Flu

Woman washing her hands in sink with soap

As sure as the summer becomes fall, cold season arrives every year. When kids go back to school and office decorations switch to their winter wear and everyone starts spending more time inside, knowing how to help prevent the common cold is an important step toward keeping yourself and your family healthy while infection rates are on the rise.

Cold Prevention that Works

Prevention is the best line of defense against the common cold. Luckily, preventing a cold is simpler than treating it—and includes daily activities you already practice:i

  • Wash your hands. Wash hands when you typically would—before meals, after using the washroom—but take that hand washing a step further during cold season. Make sure you’re washing with warm to hot water for at least 20 seconds. In a pinch, hand sanitizer will do, too.
  • Don’t touch your face. Sure, you may need to touch your face sometimes throughout the course of the day, but try to do it only when necessary and only with washed hands. Avoid your nose, eyes, and mouth especially, as these are spots where the cold virus can find its way into your system most easily.
  • Avoid those who have the cold already. The cold virus spreads easily through contact with a symptomatic person. Schools, offices, public transit, grocery stores—these are all places where it’s possible to come into contact with someone who has the common cold.

How to Treat a Cold

Put those antibiotics down. The cold is a virus—it cannot be treated with antibiotics.

The truth is, there is no cure for the common cold. If prevention efforts didn’t work and you still find yourself experiencing symptoms, easing those symptoms is the best you can do until the cold has run its course. Ways you can take care of your cold symptoms (and yourself) include:

  • Rest up. Don’t push yourself too hard. Take time off if you can, and don’t over-exert yourself.
  • Stay hydrated. Water and non-sugary drinks are your best friends right now. Warm liquids are also helpful for soothing sore throats.[i]
  • Try over-the-counter medications to ease symptoms like pain and stuffiness. While you can’t prevent a cold with OTC medicines, you can seek symptom relief. Depending on age and symptoms, Advil Multi-Symptom Cold & Flu or Advil Cold & Sinus may be appropriate options.
  • Try a humidifier. Adding moisture to the air can help soothe dry sinuses and may loosen congestion.[ii]


i. Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed May 1, 2020.

ii. IBID.

iii. IBID.

iv. Cold remedies: What works, what doesn’t, what can’t hurt. Mayo Clinic. Accessed May 1, 2020.

v. IBID.

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