10 Habits Doctors Use to Avoid Cold and Flu from 10 Habits Doctors Use to Avoid Cold and Flu

10 Habits Doctors Use to Avoid Cold and Flu

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10 Habits Doctors Use to Avoid Cold and Flu

The cold is called “common” for a reason. Approximately 22 million school days are lost each year in the U.S. due to the illness, according to the CDC, and about 100 different viruses can cause it. Both cold and flu are contagious viral infections of the respiratory tract that make you cough and give you headache. About 5 to 20 percent of people in the U.S. come down with the flu, usually in the winter between October and March. 

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Appropriate hand washing

This is one of the most important ways to prevent the common cold or the flu virus, Harvard-trained, DC-area pain specialist, Dr. Aneesh Singla, says. You become ill when someone coughs or sneezes and you touch the surface on which the germs landed. These include doorknobs, phones, keyboards, and computers. You then end up touching your nose, eyes or mouth, and infect yourself unknowingly.

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Avoid sick contacts when they have a cold

It’s very simple – stay away from people who are already sick. They will not be offended. Germs, especially smaller particles, fly 200 times farther than previously thought when people cough or sneeze. Drinking fountains, for example are one way flu moisture droplets are transferred from one mouth to another. A study found as many as 2.7 million bacterial cells per square inch on drinking water fountain faucets. They harbor bacteria when they are wet. If someone has coughed, sneezed or spit on it recently, the chances of the next person drinking from it and catching a cold are high.

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Wearing a mask when you are sick

You don't want to spread aerosolized harmful microorganisms to others, Dr. Singla says. If quarantining yourself at home is not an option, put a mask on to minimize the spread of tiny infected droplets that are released when you talk, cough or sneeze. People won’t make fun of you by singeing you out; they will thank you for protecting them.

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Maintain a healthy diet

Proper nutrition is one of the most important factors when it comes to preventing the nuisances of the common cold and flu, Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network, says. You need to boost your immune system – your first line of defense. Fuel your body with foods that will give your body the right ingredients to build antibodies so you can feel well soon. These foods include tea, leafy greens, salmon, chicken coup, garlic, and honey.

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Get 8 hours of sleep a night

This is crucial, Dr. Singla says. Your immune system weakens if you don’t get enough sleep. Past Sleep in America polls conducted by the National Sleep Foundation indicate that children and the elderly, identified as high-risk populations and first in line for the flu vaccine, are often sleep-deprived. You need restorative sleep to get the body back into disease-fighting shape.

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Exercise regularly

Regular workouts keep the immune system up to par. When it’s in top shape, few bacteria can get in its way. Thirty minutes of exercise a day is not hard to achieve, so make sure you commit to the task. When you move your body your circulation increases. Better blood flow strengthens the immune system, which makes it better able to fight infections and viruses, including the common cold and flu.

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Flu shot

“For influenza, we stress the importance of getting the flu shot as asthmatics are much more susceptible to getting sicker and having a full blown asthma attack, or worse, being admitted to the hospital, Dr. Parikh says. Remember, flu shots are made with dead viruses or without any viruses at all. So you can’t catch the flu from a flu shot because the inactivated virus in the shot can’t transmit the disease.

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The pneumonia vaccine

“Although not a virus, the pneumonia vaccine is now recommended as well in all asthmatics over 18, Dr. Parikh says. “The bacterium is the most common cause of bacterial sinus, ear, and lung infections.” Pneumococcal disease is a serious health threat that can lead to death, according to WebMD. Many strains are resistance to antibiotics.

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Drink plenty of fluids

All teas are great for colds and sore throats because they are warm and hydrating. Stick with herbals, as the caffeinated ones can do the opposite and dehydrate you. Chamomile, Echinacea, and all herbals are also recommended. Make sure you also drink a lot of water. Chick soup will help you stay hydrated, too.

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Preventative medicines

“Sometimes airborne ways are unavoidable but if you know you are susceptible to asthma attacks especially during cold and flu season there are preventative medicines your doctor can prescribe as well in addition to the basics of frequent hand washing and proper sleep and nutrition,” Dr. Parikh says.

10 Habits Doctors Use to Avoid Cold and Flu