Every year, we sniffle our way through an estimated 62 million cases of the common cold, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Most of these colds fall during the dreary winter months, but cold and flu season can begin as early as October and runs until April, according to the CDC. For decades, though, the number of runny noses and sore throats has peaked more often than not in February, just around the time when we're trying to cozy up to someone special for Valentine's Day.
"Cold weather is a better environment for viruses to survive and get transported from person to person," says Yael Halaas, M.D., an ear, nose and throat specialist based in New York City. "The cold dry air allows viruses to travel freely, whereas hot humid weather bogs down the virus."
But Cupid's arrows certainly aren't helping matters.
Spending time in close proximity with that February date could put you at risk, since you're close by every time he or she coughs or sneezes. And -- excuse us while we get graphic for a minute -- if you plan on swapping any saliva with that date, "there's a great likelihood you're going to exchange a virus," says Dr. Halaas.
(Silver lining! A closed-lip peck might help you dodge those germs! A small 1984 study found that kissing rarely transmitted the cold virus, unless one of the kissers had a bad cough that brought mucus into the saliva, according to "The Guardian".)
We know you're tired of hearing about how hand-washing will save the day; we're tired of saying it! But we also want you to be at your healthiest come the big day (although, as long as you're not a "sneezy, runny-nosed mess", Dr. Halaas says it's fine to go out). That's why we've compiled this list of our favorite, fun ways to stay sniffle-free for Valentine's Day.