Every time you shake someones hand, wash yours.
But don't stop there. Wash them as much as possible, says Mark Mengel, MD, chair of community and family medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Running lots of water over your hands will dilute any germs and send them down the drain.
Keep your hands off.
Touching your nose and your eyes may hurt you, Mengel says. Those are the most common places for germs to get in.
Go to bed.
As if getting enough sleep on a normal basis isn't hard enough, you need more zzz's when you're feeling under the weather. When you're tired, your body isn't fighting as hard, so Mengel suggests getting 8 to 10 hours a night.
Get your flu shot.
Just get them early.
Build up with healthy food.
You may think it's hard to eat healthy on a regular basis, but eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables supports your immune system, Robertson says. And that's a lot easier than fighting off
Get those sweats on and exercise, says Ann G. Kulze, MD, CEO and founder of Dr. Ann and Just Wellness. Working out regularly enhances immune function, she explains.
Keep your distance from people displaying symptoms like sneezing and coughing. While that strategy may seem obvious, it applies to more than just strangers and colleagues. Stay away from sick friends and family when possible, Robertson says.
Keep sanitizing gel or alcohol-based hand wipes on you at all times. But read the label before you buy, says Robertson: Some wipes are not alcohol-based and wont be as effective.
Another reason to quit.
Smoking increases the risk of infections by making structural changes in the respiratory tract and decreasing immune response, according to a study of smokers and infection published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2004. In particular, Mengel says, smoking destroys cilia, the little hairlike fibers inside our noses; this can help increase infection risks.
Did you just double dip that chip?
Beware of the dip. It may be harboring more than savory salsa. Double-dippers may be passing germs to those who eat after them, Mengel says.
Another reason to shop.
Our purses pick up germs like we do, according to Joseph Brasco, MD, author of The Great Physicians Rx for Colds and Flu, so you could be re-infecting yourself every time you pick up your handbag. His suggestion: Put away your cloth purse during the winter months and carry one made of easier-to-wipe-down vinyl or leather. Of course, you could always just buy more purses.
Biting your nails may be hurting you, Brasco says. Germs get under your nails and nibbling is a fast way to ingest them. Yuck!!!
Try to smile
New research has found that happiness may help you. Carl Charnetski, MD, professor of psychology at Wilkes University, found that sex, positive thinking, playing with a pet, and other pleasurable behaviors will boost your immune system.
You want me to sneeze where?
It may sound strange, but when you have to cough and sneeze, do so into the crook of your elbow, not into your hands. Since your hands are a common source of germs, doing that will prevent them from spreading, Kulze says.
Here are four things you can do to get better, according to Jeff Robertson, MD, and chief medical officer for health insurer Regence.
Take some alone time.
This is the when you'll want to shy away from company. Stay home and take care of yourself.
Watch your symptoms.
If it goes from simple sniffles to raging sickness, contact your doctor. Your cold may have escalated to the flu.
Drink, drink, drink.
Dehydration can easily occur (especially if you are running a fever or vomiting). If you're unable to keep fluids down, contact your physician.
Now's not the time to save up.
Dispose of all used tissues. As easy as it is to grab whatever is on the nightstand (including crumpled Kleenex), don't! You may be furthering the cold.
What's your best remedy...