Cough and Cold During Winters: Here’s What You Should Keep in Mind!


cough and cold

Flu, cough and cold as well as diverse kinds of respiratory illnesses are widely common during the winter season. In the colder months, people tend to be indoors more often and this allows viruses to pass from one person to the other more easily. On the other hand, the cold and dry air may weaken our resistance. Thus, common cold and cough are more prevalent during the winter months for several reasons. Some of these can be identified as the following: 

Causes of Cough and Cold During Winter  

1) Viral Infections 

The most common cause of cold and cough is viral infections and it is known that many viruses thrive in colder temperatures (Noor, A., Fiorito, T. and Krilov, L.R., 2019. Cold weather viruses. Pediatrics in Review, 40(10), pp.497-507). Rhinoviruses, the most common cause of colds, replicate better in the cooler nasal passages.

2) Dry Air

Cold air is often dry and indoor heating systems further reduce humidity. On the other hand, dry air may irritate the respiratory tract thereby making individuals more prone to such infections. For best inisghts on these probems, refer to DocTube.

3) Remaining Indoors

During the winter, people tend to spend more time indoors in close proximity to one another (Arundel, A.V., Sterling, E.M., Biggin, J.H. and Sterling, T.D., 1986. Indirect health effects of relative humidity in indoor environments. Environmental health perspectives, 65, pp.351-361). This close contact facilitates the spread of viruses from person to person.

4) Weakened Immune Response

It has often been seen that exposure to cold temperatures suppresses the immune system's response to infections, making individuals more susceptible to viruses.

5) Vitamin D Deficiency

Reduced sunlight during the winter can lead to lower levels of vitamin D, which plays a role in the immune system (Denlinger, L.C., King, T.S., Cardet, J.C., Craig, T., Holguin, F., Jackson, D.J., Kraft, M., Peters, S.P., Ross, K., Sumino, K. and Boushey, H.A., 2016. Vitamin D supplementation and the risk of colds in patients with asthma. American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine, 193(6), pp.634-641). This deficiency may contribute to an increased susceptibility to respiratory infections.

6) Stress

When individuals are stressed, their immune system often weakens. This in turn makes them more susceptible to infections.

7) Inactivity

Cold weather often discourages outdoor activities and exercise. Regular physical activity is known to support a healthy immune system, so a lack of exercise during winter may contribute to an increased risk of respiratory infections.

Preventing and managing common cold and cough during the winter months is often easily possible by following a combination of lifestyle practices, hygiene measures and in some cases, medical interventions. 

Prevention of cough and cold during winter

1) Hand Hygiene

Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available.

2) Respiratory Hygiene

While sneezing and coughing, ensure that you are covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or with your elbow (Cook, G.W., 2004. This winter, make the common cold less common: Advice to help you stay healthy. Asthma Magazine, 9(6), p.9). Dispose of the used tissues properly and wash hands immediately.

3) Avoid Touching Your Face

Viruses can enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth, so try to avoid touching your face.

4) Stay Active

Engage in regular exercise to support overall health and immune function.

5) Balanced Diet

Consume a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains to support your immune system.

6) Stay Hydrated

In order to keep your respiratory system moist, it is important to drink enough water (Passioti, M., Maggina, P., Megremis, S. and Papadopoulos, N.G., 2014. The common cold: potential for future prevention or cure. Current allergy and asthma reports, 14, pp.1-11.).

7) Adequate Sleep

Ensure you get enough restorative sleep to support your immune system.

8) Vitamin D

Consider vitamin D supplementation if you have limited exposure to sunlight during the winter.

9) Avoid Close Contact

Try to maintain distance from individuals who are sick to reduce the risk of infection.

10) Stay Warm and Dress Appropriately

Protect yourself from the cold to avoid stress on the immune system.

Management of cough and cold during winter

1) Rest

Allow your body to rest and recover if you are feeling unwell.

2) Hydration

Drink warm fluids like herbal teas, soups and broths to soothe the throat and stay hydrated (Shields, M.D., Bush, A., Everard, M.L., McKenzie, S. and Primhak, R., 2008. Recommendations for the assessment and management of cough in children. Thorax, 63(Suppl 3), pp.iii1-iii15).

3) Humidification

Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air, especially if indoor heating is making the air dry.

4) Over-the-Counter Medications

Non-prescription cold and flu medications may help alleviate symptoms. Follow the dosing instructions carefully.

5) Saltwater Gargle

In order to soothe sore throat, try gargling using warm salt water.

6) Nasal Saline Drops

Use saline nasal drops to alleviate nasal congestion.

7) Honey and Lemon

A sore throat can also be managed by drinking a mixture of lemon and honey in warm water.

8) Steam Inhalation

Inhaling steam can relieve nasal congestion and ease breathing (Turmel, J., Bougault, V. and Boulet, L.P., 2012. Seasonal variations of cough reflex sensitivity in elite athletes training in cold air environment. Cough, 8, pp.1-8).

9) See a doctor if needed

If you find your cold and cough symptoms worseing or persisting for a long time, consult a doctor as prescription medications may help in easing your problems.


  Which fruits should be avoided while suffering from cough and cold?  

When suffering from cough and cold, one must avoid grapes, citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, watermelon, bananas, papaya and guava.

  Which foods help in relieving cold and cough symptoms?  

Some of the best foods for relieving cold and cough symptoms are honey, turmeric, ginger and peppermint.


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