Which of these are more proper and why?
Ways to prevent a cold
Ways to prevent colds
I learned in high school that "cold" is singular and plural and at the time.
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Cold as in the disease is a normal singular noun and requires s at the end if you are talking about more than one.
Ways to prevent a cold or Ways to prevent colds
Cold also means "low temperature." Nouns that refer to abstract attributes do not take articles. If you see cold without an article, this meaning is likely intended.
Ways to prevent cold
However, nouns that refer to types instead of concrete instances also do not take articles. So it is possible to omit the article for cold if the word is being used to refer to a type of disease.
Various diseases such as cold, flu, food poisoning are contagious.
The Common Cold is a proper noun, as such it needs the definite article, nevertheless if "Common" is omitted. A quick search doesn't agree though.