Make sure you stand six feet away – some interesting facts about the common cold

  • How many colds do we get a year?
  • When are you most likely to get a cold?
  • What will make a cold last up to two days fewer?

To save my colleagues from a similar fate, I have bravely elected not to go to work today as I am at home suffering with a cold.

It’s unusual for adults to get colds in the summer, although given the unseasonably cool weather, perhaps it is the year rather than me that is an anomaly.

Adults usually get two to four colds per year, between September and May in the northern hemisphere. Children usually get six to eight!

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More than you realised? This may be because the common cold is more of a collective term for over 200 mild infections of the same areas of the body, ie mostly throat and nose.

They can differ between feeling a bit bunged up and achey to a more severe headache, sneezing, nauseating feeling. If you’re only bunged up for a few days, you’re unlikely to remember it after a few weeks.

A cold is usually contagious for three days, and American health website WebMD recommends you stay six feet away from someone who has a cold to avoid being contaminated.

There are 40,000 droplets in a single sneeze and cold viruses can live for up to two days on objects. 

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Most people think they’ve had the flu, but influenza is actually a lot more serious than a cold. It is contagious for longer, even before you’ve started to feel the symptoms of it and the symptoms are much worse.

Before modern healthcare and sanitation, people would die from the flu through dehydration or lack of food feeling unable to move very far. Plenty of patients become very feverish and can be bed-bound for days.

So if a colleague, housemate or friend has a cold, remember one single virus can have up to 16m offpsring per day, but if you do catch a cold, taking Vitamin C could make it last one to two days fewer.