Ask the expert


Why do I keep getting colds?

In the last 12 months I've had 8 colds with 3 or 4 bouts of sinusitus. The last cold lasted 2-3 weeks, then I developed a very bad sore throat and a cough which lasted a further 2-3 weeks and then another bout of sinusitus. I've tried inhaling Vicks and steaming with salt for the viral infection, but with no effect. I've also been given several different antibiotics, but my body reacts badly to these. Any suggestions as to how I can prevent this would be gratefully received.

22 November 2019

We are constantly being exposed to new viruses and other potential microbial infections, but if our immune system is in good working order, we can usually manage to fight most most of these off. It's not uncommon to go through a period of months with lots of new infections after getting physically and mentally overtired, which results in heavy colds or flu-like illnesses. This in turn causes the immune system to run on empty for a while.

To boost your immunity, try to avoid getting overstressed, exercise regularly provided you don't have an active infection, and eat the correct foods.

Although exercise is known to boost immunity, too much heavy endurance exercise can atually have the reverse effect and result in low immunity, so be careful not to overdo it.

Keep your weight down by eating a healthy, balanced diet, low in sugary foods and saturated fats and try to eat foods containing vitamin C, antioxidants, selenium, zinc and vitamin, E such as fruits, nuts, pulses and green vegetables.

If you feel that your diet is lacking, it may be worth taking a multivitamin supplement but check with your GP first. They may want to test your levels of different nutrients to see if you have any deficiencies, and may be able to prescribe specific medications to address these.

Once your immune system is up and running again, it's important to try to stick to these principles to prevent spells of recurring infection.

You may also be interested in...

Fitting change into your lifestyle - AXA Health

Ten ways to develop healthy eating habits - AXA Health

Diet and nutrition hub - AXA Health

Fitness and exercise hub - AXA Health

Got a health question?

We’re here to help you take care of your health - whenever you need us, wherever you are, whether you're an AXA Health member or not.

Our Ask the Expert service allows you to ask our team of friendly and experienced nurses, midwives, counsellors and pharmacists about any health topic. So if there's something on your mind, why not get in touch now.