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How you can stop a cold within HOURS of catching it: Our handy tips on how to beat the sniffles this winter

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  • An understanding of how cold viruses spread could be key to stopping a cold
  • In the first 24 hours, the infection takes hold and starts to multiply, causing symptoms
  • Leading experts explain what you can do to reduce severity of your symptoms

One day you’re feeling fine, the next, your nose is running, you’re sneezing and your throat feels like you’ve swallowed broken glass.

Welcome to the annual cold season. Most of us will get between one and three colds each year, usually in autumn and winter, caused by one of more than 200 different cold viruses.

And there is little you can do about it — a cure for the common cold remains one of the Holy Grails of medicine — but better understanding of how these viruses spread could be the key.

What we do know for sure is that the first 24 hours are crucial; this is when the infection takes hold and starts to multiply, causing symptoms.

Here, with the help of three leading experts — Professor John Oxford, a virologist at Queen Mary University of London, Professor Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University and Professor Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London — we explain what is going on during the first 24 hours of your cold and what you can do to reduce the severity of

A better understanding of how cold viruses spread could be the key to stopping a cold (stock image)

The first minutes

Catching a cold is about a combination of factors coming together; not only do you need to come into contact with the virus — for example, from a sneeze or a bug your child picked up at school — but the virus must also overcome your body’s own defences.

A single sneeze contains hundreds of millions of virus particles known as virions — each of which can trigger a cold.