10 Worst Things You Can Do If You Have The Cold

The snowy season is good for many things—drinking hot chocolate, building snowmen, the holidays—but if there’s one thing that makes winter a time to loathe, it’s the common cold. Unfortunately, the chilly weather that comes with the winter months weakens your immune system, and so the rhinovirus has easy access to your body as soon as the temperature drops.

#1 Not Get Enough Sleep.

When you come down with a cold, your antibodies need to work overtime to fight off the infection and restore your health—but sleep deprivation takes away your immune system’s ability to do its job. In fact, according to one study published in the journal Sleep, getting less than seven hours of sleep can impair the immune system.

#2 Stress Out.

Try to take it easy if and when the rhinovirus enters your system. According to the American Psychological Association, simply being stressed out weakens the immune system and makes it harder for the body to fight off bacteria and viruses, especially in older individuals.

#3 Not Drink Enough Water.

There’s a reason that doctors recommend drinking at least eight glasses of water every day. Without water, you risk becoming dehydrated—and when you’re dehydrated, you hinder the body’s ability to ward off infections by limiting the secretion of antimicrobial proteins into your saliva.

#4 Smoke.

If your cold is making you cough out all kinds of foreign substances, then lighting up is only going to make your symptoms worse. “When you smoke, you’re irritating and damaging your lungs,” Neelam Taneja-Uppal, MD, an infectious disease specialist, explained. When you’re sick with a cold, your lungs are already working twice as hard to rid of the infection, and the last thing they need is an influx of cigarette smoke to distract them from their job.

#5 Booze.

If you suspect that you’re coming down with a cold, then cancel any plans you have coming up that involve copious amounts of alcohol (or any alcohol at all, really). Even if you’re not a frequent drinker, one study published in the journal Alcohol found that just one night of heavy drinking can significantly impair the immune system’s ability to do its job.

#6 Exercise Too Hard.

Though you might not want to stop your intense workouts just because you have a silly little cold, keeping up with your insane gym schedule while sick could end up prolonging the infection and even making it worse, according to one study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

#7 Take Antibiotics.

By definition, antibiotics are medications used to treat infections caused by bacteria. The rhinovirus, as its name suggests, is caused by a virus. Therefore, not only do antibiotics not work on the common cold, but taking them unnecessarily can make your body resistant to them should you need them later on.

#8 Blow Your Nose With Excess Force.

According to research published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, blowing your nose with too much force can actually propel mucus into the sinuses and cause a sinus infection. When you’re blowing your nose, your safest bet is to do so gently, clearing out just one nostril at a time.

#9 Blow Your Nose Too Often.

Blowing your nose too often is just as bad as blowing your nose with too much force. According to the experts at the University of California at Berkeley, turning to the tissues too often “can rupture the small blood vessels in the nose and cause nosebleeds, especially if the mucosal lining is already irritated from a cold.”

#10 Cough Into Your Hand.

When a coughing fit comes on in a crowded, public space, most people have the immediate instinct to use their hand to cover their mouths and prevent the spreading of germs. But while this gesture comes from a good place, the unfortunately reality is that coughing into your hand is actually worse than just letting it out into the open, as the rhinovirus lives longer on surfaces than it does in the air.