Getting colds

Why do I keep getting colds?

14 May 2024

There are over 200 strains of the common cold and flu viruses. Over an average lifetime, there will be times when exposure to these numerous viruses is heightened, for example when you’re travelling, work in a busy place, or if you care for young children who tend to be good at picking up and sharing their germs. If you’re exposed to new strains of viruses, the likelihood is that you may come down with a cold.1

It's not uncommon for children and toddlers to develop colds every few weeks but as their immunity develops with age, the frequency of developing viruses will reduce to around two to three colds per year.2

Symptoms of a cold

  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Coughs
  • Sneezing
  • Raised temperature
  • Pressure in your ears and face
  • Loss of taste and smell

The symptoms are the same in both adults and children. Sometimes symptoms last longer in children.

Possible causes of a cold

It's not uncommon to go through a period of months having lots of new infections after getting physically and mentally overtired, which can result in heavy colds or flu-like illnesses. This, in turn, causes the immune system to run on empty.

Other factors include:

  • Nutritional deficiencies/poor diet. If you’re running around, it’s easy to skip meals, or grab fast food. For more information and tips from Liverpool FC’s Head of Nutrition, check out this article Nutrition for good health.
  • Stress or burn-out. This can result in cold or flu-like symptoms causing your immune system to run on empty. Find out more about burnout in our stress or burnout article.
  • Poor hygiene. For example: lack of hand washing, sharing utensils, not using tissues, and disposing of them.
  • Your environment – dry air, exposure to smoke, touching contaminated surfaces
  • Lack of sleep. Sleep releases proteins and infection-fighting antibodies to help combat inflammations and infections. For more information, read our article Health Benefits of Sleep.
  • Reduced immunity – age, medical conditions, pregnancy.

Management of colds

Boost your immunity

Try to avoid getting overstressed, exercise regularly provided you don't have an active infection, and eat a balanced diet. Also make sure you get good quality sleep.

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

Staying hydrated

Keeping your fluids up allows your immune system to fight off viruses, so try to drink water rather than fizzy, sugary drinks.

Weight and diet

Keep to a healthy weight and try to eat foods containing vitamin C, antioxidants, selenium, zinc, and vitamin E, such as fruits, nuts, pulses, and green vegetables.

>Discover  our recipes to help give you some inspiration

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.


Consider taking over-the-counter decongestants, steam inhalations, paracetamol, ibuprofen, and nasal drops/sprays to ease symptoms such as congestion and headaches.

If you’re offered vaccinations for flu and covid viruses, consider taking up the opportunity to be vaccinated.

When should I seek a GP review if my symptoms don’t go away? (NHS recommendations)

  • Cold and flu are viruses and generally do not respond to antibiotic therapies. 
  • Symptoms do not improve after 3 weeks
  • Symptoms suddenly worsen
  • You have a very high temperature, and you feel hot and shivery
  • You feel short of breath or develop chest pain
  • You have an underlying medical condition- Asthma, COPD, Kidney Disease, Diabetes, pregnancy etc.
  • You have a weakened immune system.
  • You are concerned about your child because they are displaying symptoms such as high fever, very lethargic and drowsy/ unresponsive, very pale, have a rapid and irregular respiratory rate and are showing signs of dehydration (NICE traffic light guidelines)


  1. Common Cold - NHS 
  2. Feverish Children - NICE


This information has been put together by our medical team, who are there to help you with any issues or initial concerns about your or your family’s physical or mental health. To the best of our knowledge the health information is current at the time of writing.

However, it’s important to remember that it shouldn’t replace any qualified medical advice you may have received from your doctor, be used to self-diagnose or recommend a course of treatment. For treatment and medication, please talk to your doctor who’ll be able to give you advice tailored to your own treatment needs. 

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