It’s here: crisp weather, turning leaves, pumpkins – and the return of cold and flu season. While these illnesses can seem inevitable, there are ways to slash our chances of catching one.
Twana Triplett, a certified medical assistant at PartnerMD in Greenville, says the PartnerMD team members are big believers that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. “We like to prevent things from happening,” she says. “We are proactive instead of reactive.”
They haven’t found a vaccine for colds, but there is one for flu, so make sure to schedule that in October or early November
She has several quick tips that can make anyone far less susceptible to colds, and they boil down to one main objective: taking care of yourself. “That’s really the biggest key point in fighting off all of the fall and winter germs,” she says.
1. Wash your hands
This has been the number one method of reducing illness for centuries, and for good reason – it works. Triplett doesn’t tell people to sing a song or use other tricks to make handwashing last longer, but she does recommend about 15 seconds with soap and water.
For an even more convenient choice, she prefers hand sanitizer. “You just rub your hands and you’re on your way,” she says. “It’s easily accessible and it kills most of the germs.”
2. Get enough sleep
“Get enough sleep on a regular basis, but you want even more sleep if you’re feeling under the weather,” Triplett says. “That helps you recuperate from whatever bug your body is trying to fight off.” She recommends 8-10 hours to keep your immune system in optimal germ-fighting shape.
3. Watch your nutrition
Always drink plenty of water and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, she says – especially during cold and flu season. Fresh fruits and vegetables support your immune system, and citrus fruits are a top choice for their superdose of vitamin C.
4. Work out
Regular workouts – of any type – can enhance your immune function and help you fight off colds and flu.
5. Try a supplement
Triplett says probiotics are a great addition to a healthy diet at any time of year, but can be especially helpful during cold and flu season. “They keep your gut health in check, and can help to fight colds as well as any kind of seasonal allergies,” she says. Probiotics in food such as yogurt or in supplement form is fine, she adds.
If you plan to be on a flight, at a conference or any place many people converge, she says a supplement such as Airborne can be effective. “Still do the other steps and eat the fruits and vegetables, which is really key, but these can give you a boost,” she says.