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8 ways to fight colds and flu

Cough, sniffle, achoo! Cold and flu germs have some crafty ways of getting around.

Often these viral villains take to the air. They spread by airborne droplets when someone coughs, sneezes or even talks. They can also land on surfaces — and hitch a ride when you touch them with your hands.

Germ fighting 101

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older is the single best way to avoid getting influenza. But there’s more you can do. These stay-well strategies can help keep you and your family from getting — or passing along — a cold or flu bug:

  1. Hit the sink. Be sure to wash your hands regularly to remove any germs. A good, thorough scrubbing is key. That means for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
  2. Have sanitizer at the ready. Soap and water aren’t always available. So keep hand sanitizer in your car, your bag or tote, and your workspace too. Look for products that contain at least 60 percent alcohol.
  3. Be hands-off! Try to limit how much you touch your face. Germs can enter your body through your eyes, nose or mouth.
  4. Cover that cough. Make it a habit to cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your elbow. Teach kids this trick too.
  5. Keep your distance. As much as possible, try to avoid close contact with anyone who’s ill. If you do get sick, stay home until you’re better.
  6. Wipe ’em out. Regularly clean surfaces you touch often — such as keyboards, remote controls, door handles and countertops. Use soapy water and a household disinfectant.
  7. Share not. Remind your family not to share items such as cups, silverware or toothbrushes.
  8. Build a strong defense. When you take care of yourself, you help your body fight off illness. So be sure to get plenty of sleep. Choose healthy foods — and get regular exercise.*

What to do next

Get the latest information on flu season at flu.govOpens a new window. You'll find timely updates — plus prevention pointers, flu-care tips and more. Worth noting: If you haven’t gotten your flu vaccine, it’s not too late. Flu viruses can linger into the spring.

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*Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level.

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