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How to Survive Cold and Flu Season


Cold and flu season is upon us, and our main priority during this one will be avoiding the germs.

During these busy fall months, it's easy to get wrapped up in your demanding life and let yourself get run down. Whether you're pulling all-nighters as a student or spending extra hours at work, it's important to put your health first.

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When you run yourself down, your immune system becomes weak and you become more likely to catch a cold. To avoid becoming sick during this busy season, check out some of my favorite tips below:

1. Wash your hands. This is the simplest way to prevent germs from spreading. The suggested time to ensure a proper germ-killing hand wash is 20 seconds.

[Read More: What You Need to Know About Enterovirus D68]

Always wash your hands before and after you use the restroom -- and especially before you eat. If you are in an environment where getting up to wash your hands every so often could be problematic, keep a bottle of hand sanitizer handy. By having a disinfectant at your disposal, it will be easier and more convenient to keep on top of constant hand washing.

2. Take a zinc supplement. Zinc is often used for boosting the immune system, preventing lower respiratory infections and treating the common cold and recurring ear infections.

During flu season, if you feel symptoms coming on, you can take a zinc supplement to avoid falling ill. You can find zinc supplements at your nearest pharmacy or grocery store. By taking zinc supplements, you'll be able to reduce the duration of your cold.

3. Hydrate and eat healthy. Drinking water and following a healthy diet can also help boost and maintain your immune system. Maintaining a healthy immune system lessens common cold symptoms and decreases the risk of getting a cold or the flu.

Drinking lots of water throughout the day is not only important for preventing colds, but it's also important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Switching from sugary drinks to water is a simple step that will make a huge difference in how you feel.

Staying hydrated is something that should be practiced every single day, but especially during the colder months. It will reduce the likeliness of becoming sick.

4. Get a good night's sleep. Many of us are guilty of staying up late into the wee hours, but by not getting at least seven hours of sleep, you're actually doing a disservice to your body and your immune system.

Researchers have found that those who get fewer than seven hours of sleep are three times more likely to get sick. So if you're a night owl or feel that you're not getting enough sleep, get strict with yourself and set an earlier bedtime.

--Dr. Petersen

Readers -- Do you get an annual flu shot? What steps do you take to avoid getting sick? What methods do you use to reduce your symptoms when you are sick? Do you prefer natural options or over-the-counter medications? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Dr. Keri Peterson obtained her bachelor's degree from Cornell University and received her medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She completed post-graduate training in internal medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and is board-certified in internal medicine. Dr. Petersen has been in private practice with a prominent medical group on the Upper East Side of Manhattan since 1999.

She holds appointments at Lenox Hill Hospital and Mount Sinai Medical Center. She is also a member of the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association. With a demonstrated commitment to the advancement of medicine, Dr. Peterson has several publications in leading medical and scientific journals and has presented at distinguished medical symposiums.

To learn more about Dr. Peterson, visit her website or connect with her on Twitter.

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