7 tips to help avoid catching a cold on public transport
Avoiding infections has now become more important than ever, with parents not being able to attend work or children able to go to childcare or school with any sign of an upper respiratory infection. While we are now more conscious about avoiding situations where infection transmission is common, we can’t avoid them all. Studies have shown a link between using public transport and the spread of upper respiratory infections. But if you need to catch the bus or train to work, what can you do?
How to help avoid catching a cold on public transport?
Wash your hands often
Washing your hands, with soap and water regularly, including after a trip on the train or bus, is one simple and important way to reduce the risk of getting sick. Try to also avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes before you have washed your hands. An alcohol based sanitiser, kept in your bag, is a convenient alternative.
Wear a face mask
While on public transport, wear a face mask which adequately covers your mouth and nose.
Choose the least crowded area
You may be able to reduce your exposure to germs by choosing the least crowded part of the bus, train or tram, or by avoiding travel during peak periods.
Avoid being close to sick people
If possible, avoid sitting near people who are recognisably sick. Kids in particular are yet to develop good respiratory etiquette, so avoiding sitting next to children who are recognisably sick may also help.
Walk to and from the station
Fit more exercise into your day by getting off the bus or train one stop early and walking the rest of the way. A study has found that adults who exercise on a regular basis experience significantly less upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold, than those who don’t.
Keep up your fluids and consider lozenges
The low humidity in some forms of transport can irritate the mucous membranes of the throat,so keep up your water intake on long trips and have lozenges on hand to keep your throat moist and ease a sore throat.
Support your immune system
Supporting your immune system helps your body fight the infection. The immune system is a network of proteins, tissues, cells and organs that work in harmony to protect the body from infection and disease.
Help your immune system work at its best by:
- Sleeping well — Getting adequate sleep helps support your immune system and dampens your stress response, which can suppress your immune system.
- Reducing stress — Overexposure to stress hormones can have a negative impact on your immune system.
- Eating a healthy diet — Eating a diet with plenty of vegetables, fresh fruit and water gives your immune systems the nutrients it needs to work well.
- Consider using herbal medicine — Herbal supplements such as Andrographis and Echinacea purpurea may also help support immune function and prevent upper respiratory tract infections. Talk to your healthcare provider before trying any herbs or supplements.
If you’re unwell — stay home
If you’re unwell, help prevent the spread of infection by staying home, if you can. Rest up and let your body fight the infection. You’ll recover faster and be less vulnerable to other infections.
It’s not always easy to avoid areas where cold and flu viruses thrive during the cooler months, but there are things you can do to reduce your risk of catching a bug while travelling to work. Washing your hands, keeping up your fluids and looking after your health can help you avoid the sniffles this winter. For those with little ones, read our tips on preventing sore throats in kids too.
MAT-AU-2203386. Dec 2022.
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