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Catching a cold or the flu can disrupt your daily life and keep you from attending school, work, or important events. While we’ll all get sick at some point, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of getting sick or passing your cold or flu to others. Read more to learn the best ways to avoid getting yourself and others sick.
Keep it to yourself.
Stay home from work or school if you’re not feeling well or are experiencing signs of the flu. You’ll feel better recovering at home and will help prevent getting others sick.1
Well-rested keeps you well.
Getting enough sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown an association between not getting enough sleep and having a lower resistance to illnesses like the common cold.2 Your body also needs sleep to fight infectious disease, so if you do get sick, getting proper sleep can help you feel better.3 The optimal amount of rest for most adults is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night.3
Your body also needs sleep to fight infectious disease, so if you do get sick, getting proper sleep can help you feel better.
Maintain a healthy diet.
Eating nutritious foods and drinking plenty of fluids can boost your immune system and help prevent getting sick.4 Following these tips can ensure a healthy lifestyle that keeps you from feeling sick:
- Eat fruits and vegetables.5
- Look for foods high in vitamin C, vitamin D, and iron.4
- Drink alcohol in moderation.5
Avoid sick people.
Keeping your distance from people who are sick can prevent you from catching a cold or flu. It’s also important to avoid close contact with others when you’re sick to keep them from getting sick.1
Stress can impact your body’s ability to fight infection.6 Avoiding stress and staying relaxed can prevent you from catching a cold or flu.1
Wash your hands. Often.
Washing your hands frequently can help protect you from germs.1 Use soap and water to wash your hands for at least twenty seconds.7 Viruses that cause colds can live on your hands and keeping them clean is an easy way to protect yourself from illness.7
Viruses that cause colds can live on your hands and keeping them clean is an easy way to protect yourself from illness.
Avoid touching your face.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Viruses that cause colds can enter your body this way and cause you to get sick.7
Contain coughs and sneezes.
Cough or sneeze into a tissue, or even your sleeve. Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing can prevent others around you from getting sick.1 Flu and other respiratory illnesses are spread primarily by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands.1
Get your shot.
Get a flu vaccine every year. The single best way to prevent the seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year.1 Getting a flu vaccine is especially important for people who are at high risk for flu complications, like pregnant women or people with chronic health conditions such as asthma or diabetes.8 Not only does a flu vaccine reduce your risk of catching the flu, but it can also reduce its severity if you do get sick.8
Work it out.
Although exercise has not been proven to directly prevent illnesses like cold or flu,9 maintaining an active lifestyle can make you healthier overall. Regular exercise can benefit your mental health, help lower stress, and improve your sleep.10 These benefits of exercise can help prevent cold or flu.1,2
1. Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Flu. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm. Accessed on 06/03/2021.
2. Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2629403/
3. Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick? https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757. Accessed on 06/03/2021.
4. 8 Vitamins & Minerals You Need for a Healthy Immune System. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/eat-these-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system/. Accessed on 06/03/2021.
5. How to boost your immune system. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system. Accessed on 06/03/2021.
6. Stress Weakens the Immune System. https://www.apa.org/research/action/immune. Accessed on 06/03/2021.
7. Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others. https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html. Accessed on 06/03/2021.
8. Preventive Steps. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/prevention.htm. Accessed on 06/03/2021.
9. Exercise and immunity. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm. Accessed on 06/03/2021.
10. Benefits of Exercise. https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html. Accessed on 06/03/2021.