Empowering Fertility - Preventing Colds: Hug Someone

Preventing Colds: Hug Someone

By Paul Bergh, MD

Keeping a cold at bay with a hug – really?  Well, it appears that this strategy may actually work. In an article In Press and soon to be published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers from Carnegie Melon share their findings that hugs appear to protect against infection and illness-related symptoms.  Perceived social support –the psychological and material support provided by a social network–has been found to protect against the anxiety, distress and depression often associated with life’s stress.

Using 404 healthy adults, these researchers looked at how the frequency of hugs relates to perceived social support in buffering against stress-induced susceptibility to infectious disease.  They exposed these subjects to a virus that causes a common cold and were then monitored in quarantine.  Among these infected participants, less-severe illness signs were predicted by greater perceived support and more-frequent hugs.  In addition, hugs were just as effective when given during non-tension days as when given in immediate response to conflict or tension.

The message here is that being hugged by a person you trust is as an effective means of conveying support.  Increasing the frequency of these hugs, regardless of current conflict or tension, may mitigate against infectious disease, such as the flu, by reducing the deleterious effects of stress.  It’s not clear if the protective effect of hugs is due to the actual physical contact or that hugging  acts as an indicator of support and caring.

This study highlights the importance of providing emotional support to our patients as they undergo fertility treatment.  All of our staff, but especially our nurses, play a key role in buffering our patients from the stress of treatment by bolstering their social support network.  That “human touch” is so important to our health and well-being.

Empowering Fertility: An educational blog for patients & healthcare professionals that empowers individuals to take charge of their fertility. Visit us at http://empoweringfertility.com.


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