How To Strengthen Your Immune System Against the Common Cold

To strengthen your immune system against the common cold, you need to focus on the basics of healthy living. You need to remember to wash your hands, eat a balanced diet, get adequate rest, and get regular exercise

Of course, these are just the basics of how to strengthen your immune system against the common cold.  We know that you want to do more than the basics, so we’ve done lots of research into immune system health and the common cold to give you the latest and best advice on how to keep yourself healthy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says that the common cold is the primary reason why children miss schools and adults miss work.  On average, adults have 2-3 colds a year and children have many more.

Generally, the recovery from a cold takes 7-10 days. However, people with a weakened immune system or asthma are at a heightened risk of developing an illness such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

While there isn’t a cure for the common cold, you can strengthen your immune system to minimize your chance of catching a cold and making it easier to recover from a cold. With cold season right around the corner, this is the perfect time to actively support and strengthen your immune system.

Signs and Symptoms of the Common Cold

The signs and symptoms of the common cold include: 

  • Runny or stuffed up nose.
  • Sore, scratchy throat.
  • Minor body aches or mild headache.
  • Sneezing and sniffling.
  • Low fever.
  • An overall feeling of fatigue, malaise, and being unwell.

These cold symptoms typically appear within three days of being exposed to the cold virus. The severity of these symptoms can vary for each person.

Who Is at Greatest Risk for Catching the Common Cold? 

Anyone can catch a cold, but people with these indicators are at a greater risk of catching a cold:

  • Age: children under the age of 6 have a greater risk of catching cold. This risk increases if they are part of a child-care group or setting.
  • Weak immune system: your immune system is your first line of defense against the cold. If your immune system is weakened due to a chronic illness, medication, or poor health, you’re at a greater risk of catching a cold. 
  • Time of the year: while you can catch a cold at any time of the year, everyone is more susceptible to colds in the fall and winter.
  • Smoking: if you smoke or are exposed to cigarette smoke, you are much more likely to catch a cold.
  • Exposure: when you’re around people, you’re more likely to catch a cold. Planes, schools, the subway, the hospital, or other similar locations often have lots of people in small spaces – making it hard to limit your exposure to the cold virus.

Strengthen Your Immune System to Protect Against the Common Cold

The good news is there is lots you can do naturally to strengthen your immune system against the common cold.

We suggest you follow these immune systems strengthening tips year-round so you can keep yourself and others protected from the common cold, flus, and other viruses at all times.

  1. Wash Your Hands
    Every time you go to the bathroom or return home from being out, wash your hands with soap and water. Spend a minimum of 20 seconds soaping and then rinsing your hands. Remember to thoroughly dry your hands after washing.
  1. Support Your Gut
    We know more about how our gut health and microbiome impact immune system health. A healthy gut and microbiome help support a healthy and resilient immune system. Add fermented foods like unpasteurized sauerkraut, kimchi, or kefir to your diet. Food like yogurt often have added probiotics that can help support gut health.
  1. Eat for Your Immune System
    You are what you eat, and if you eat a lot of processed foods, your immune system is not getting the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients it needs to stay strong. Vegetables and fruits are high in antioxidants that can help protect you from the common cold. Think about adding dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, or Swiss chard to your smoothies, soups, and stews. Remember to eat your citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruit or to add fresh-squeezed lemon or lime to meals - these are powerful sources of Vitamin C.  Favorites like berries, sweet potato, mushrooms, salmon, and bone broth are proven to provide immune system support.
  1. Exercise but Remember to Rest
    Regular exercise does help naturally strengthen your immune system but be careful to not do too much. Too much exercise puts a strain on your immune system and can actually cause you to get run-down and be more susceptible to catching a cold. Don’t get caught up in what other people are doing. Do the exercise type and amount that feels right for you. You should feel invigorated and energized but not exhausted by your exercise routine.
  1. Strengthen Your Immune System with Natural Supplements
    Life is busy, it can be hard to get the rest, exercise, proper nutrition, and downtime you need to strengthen your immune system. A natural supplement like AHCC that has proven immune system benefits is one of the best ways you can strengthen your immune system. AHCC is a functional food derived from healing mushrooms that is clinically tested and proven to support immune system health.

When Should I See a Doctor about the Common Cold?

During the common cold season, doctor’s offices and emergency rooms become crowded with people who have a cold. In general, you do not need to see a doctor for the common cold.

However, in some cases, your symptoms can worsen or change. The Mayo Clinic provides these guidelines for when people should see a doctor for their cold. 

Adults should see the doctor for the common cold when:

  • A fever higher than 101.3 F.
  • A fever lasting five or more days or returns after a fever-free period.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Severe sore throat, headache, or sinus pain. 

Children should see a doctor for the common cold when:

  • Fever of 100.4 F in newborns up to 12 weeks.
  • Rising fever or fever lasting more than two days in a child of any age.
  • Symptoms that worsen or fail to improve.
  • Severe symptoms, such as a headache or cough.
  • Ear pain.
  • Extreme fussiness.
  • Unusual drowsiness.
  • Lack of appetite.

Staying Healthy Year-Round

Our goal for you is to have sustainable consistent health. While some aspects of your health are out-of-your control, you can do so much to support and strengthen your immune system.

As we often say, it all comes down to the basics: a balanced diet (with some cake and ice cream), regular exercise, adequate sleep, keeping your stress levels low, taking a natural immune system supplement, and finding time to get out in nature. When you do these things regularly, you can be confident that your immune system is ready and able to support and protect you when you need it.  

During the common cold season, make it your goal to do all you can to strengthen your immune system. Very gradually, these habits will become second nature and you won’t think twice about extra spinach in your smoothie or going for a walk after supper.