4 Innocent Reasons You Always Catch Colds

Always reaching for the box of tissues? This could be why.

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Sniffling, coughing, and sneezing ... again?! If you’re notorious for being the office sicko, it may not just be bad luck. Seemingly innocent daily habits can put a damper on your immune system or expose you to more germs than you realize, which can boost your likelihood of coming down with a case of the coughs. Here are common culprits behind your constant colds—and how to help stifle those sniffles for good.

1. You burn the candle at both ends. Staying up late on a school night? Once in a while is OK, but when you’re clocking late bedtimes on a regular basis, it may increase your risk of catching a cold. In one Carnegie Mellon University study, researchers had about 150 healthy participants log their sleep duration and efficiency for 14 consecutive days. Participants were then administered nasal drops that contained rhinovirus (the common cold). (Brave volunteers, right?). Researchers found that those who slept less than seven hours a night were nearly three times more likely to develop a cold than those who got eight or more hours of sleep per night. Severe sleep loss can make it harder for your body to fight off infections.

2. Your phone = germ magnet. You’re not going to like this: That thing you carry around with you 24/7 could have ten times more germs than a toilet seat, according to research from microbiologists at The University of Arizona. Think about it: Your phone gets touched all day long with not-so-clean hands (whether yours or your friends’) and gets set on dirty, germ-ridden surfaces (think office bathroom counters or public transportation seats). So if you’re handling your germy phone and then touching your eyes, mouth, or face, you could be giving those germs VIP access to make you sick. Wipe down your device regularly with a disinfecting wipe or spray (per your device’s instructions, of course).

3. You’re parched. Have you been drinking enough H20 lately? Your body is around 50 to 70 percent water (depending on your age, weight and gender), and getting enough is crucial for your organs to work properly. Being dehydrated alone can make you feel less than stellar (and may also lead to dangerous complications if left untreated), but when your body doesn’t get enough fluid and electrolytes, it affects your ability to fight off nasty viruses, too. To protect yourself against dehydration and those cold- and flu-causing viruses, healthy adults should drink at least 1½ to 2 quarts (about 2 liters) of fluids a day.

4. You opt for hand sanitizer. Keeping hand sanitizer handy is  great way to kill germs on the go (as long as it’s 60 percent alcohol), but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand sanitizer is not as effective as a good old-fashioned hand washing. Hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on your hands, but it doesn’t destroy all the germs. Hand sanitizers can’t get rid of dirt, grease, and toxic chemicals from your hands either. For a cleaner, less-germy grip, lather up with soap and water (warm or cold) and scrub hands for at least 20 seconds, then rinse and dry.