7 Simple Ways To Prevent Colds & Flu

NEW YORK: You may not be able to completely prevent colds and flu this time of year, but by practicing good hygiene and being careful to avoid cold germs, you may escape cold and flu season unscathed. Here are 7 simple health behaviors to keep you and your family free from the flu this year.

1. Get a vaccine

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year. The vaccine prime your body to mount a flu-fighting response before you’re even exposed.

2. Clean your hands

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Even if you are exposed to the flu, if you clean your hands before you touch your face, there’s little chance the germs can reach your eyes, nose, or mouth, the usual ways they enter your system. The key is to make hand cleansing a habit. Aside from after a bathroom break, wash your hands before you eat, after being in crowded public places or if you’ve been near someone who’s sneezing or coughing.

3. Stay home when you are sick

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others. Most people can weather the flu just fine but there are exceptions. For example, people with underlying chronic conditions — especially diabetes, asthma, or heart, liver, or kidney disease — are also more likely to face flu complications.

4. Stop nibbling your nails

When you bite your nails, you’re basically inviting flu germs to infect you. No matter how anal you are about hand washing, let’s face it — you can’t park yourself in front of a sink or use hand sanitizer all the time. That’s where the avoid-unnecessarily-touching-your-face rule comes in. In doing so, you give germs a more direct route to your mouth and nose, where they enter your body and start making you sick.

5. Keep your cube clean

When was the last time you wiped down your desk or disinfected your phone? Chances are you don’t remember. About 41% of office workers say they rarely or never disinfect their desks. To add to the ick factor, that’s despite the fact that two-thirds of people say they eat lunch at their desks at least once or twice a week. If your unclean desk harbors germs, you can pick them up (and get sick) while shuffling papers or answering the phone—and especially when you lunch right on top of them.

6. Be your healthiest self

Make sure your immune system is firing on all cylinders. Scientists are still learning exactly how and which healthy habits bolster immunity, but there’s clearly some solid evidence for adopting and avoiding certain behaviors. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.