Each year Americans catch more than one billion colds, making the cold virus the most common infectious disease in the United States.
It accounts for more school absences and missed work than any other illness, and it’s the number one reason people visit their physicians — even though most physicians have little to offer in the form of treatment.
It’s a widespread misconception that colds are caused by bacteria. Colds are actually triggered by a virus, which means if your physician prescribes you an antibiotic, it will be absolutely useless.
More on this shortly, but before I delve into simple prevention and treatment strategies it’s important you know how colds are contracted in the first place.
How Do You Catch a Cold?
The most common way cold viruses are spread is not from being around coughing or sneezing, or walking barefoot in the rain, but rather from hand-to-hand contact. For instance, someone with a cold blows their nose then shakes your hand or touches surfaces that you also touch.
Cold viruses can live on pens, computer keyboards, coffee mugs and other objects for hours, so it’s easy to come into contact with such viruses during daily life.
However, the key to remember is that just being exposed to a cold virus does not have to mean that you’ll catch a cold. If your immune system is operating at its peak, it should actually be quite easy for you to fend off the virus without ever getting sick.
If your immune system is impaired, on the other hand, it’s akin to having an open-door policy for viruses; they’ll easily take hold in your body. So the simple and short answer is you catch a cold due to impairment in your immune system. There are many ways this can result, but the more common contributing factors are:
1. Eating too much sugar and too many grains
2. Not getting enough rest
3. Using insufficient strategies to address emotional stressors in your life
4. Vitamin D deficiency, as discussed below
5. Any combination of the above