Skip to content

    Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

    8 Natural Tips to Help Prevent a Cold

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Maybe you've got a big deadline at work. Or perhaps your long-planned dream vacation is just around the corner. No matter what's ahead on your calendar, one thing is clear: You can't afford to let a cold or the flu slow you down.

    So don't sit idly by. Get a flu shot, of course, but you can also do more. Try this eight-step plan to keep healthy so you don't miss out on the action.

    Recommended Related to Cold & Flu

    Antibiotic Resistance: Expert Q&A With the CDC

    Antibiotics are the first and most potent line of defense against bacterial diseases. But their overuse and abuse in the few decades, especially to treat viruses that don't respond to antibiotics, have led to a dangerous resistance to even common infections. The CDC has made the appropriate use of antibiotics a cornerstone of its Get Smart About Antibiotics educational campaign, now in its third year. CDC experts Lauri Hicks, DO, a medical epidemiologist, and Arjun Srinivasan, MD, associate...

    Read the Antibiotic Resistance: Expert Q&A With the CDC article > >

    No. 1: Wash Your Hands

    There's no mystery about how cold and flu viruses spread. Someone who's sick sneezes in his hand and then touches the telephone, the keyboard, or a kitchen glass. You can pick up the germ when you touch that object, even hours later.

    So wash your hands often. If you can't get to a sink, rub them with a hand sanitizer that's got alcohol in it.

    No. 2: Don't Cover Your Sneezes and Coughs With Your Hands

    Do your part to keep germs away from your family and friends. Viruses cling to your bare hands, so don't use them to muffle your coughs and sneezes.

    When you feel one coming, use a tissue, then throw it away. If you don't have one with you, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow.

    No. 3: Don't Touch Your Face

    Cold and flu viruses enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth. Teach your kids not to touch their faces -- and follow your own advice.

    No. 4: Do Aerobic Exercise Regularly

    Aerobic exercise is any activity that gets your heart pumping. It helps increase your body's natural virus-killing cells.

    No. 5: Eat Foods Containing Phytochemicals

    "Phyto" means plants, and the natural chemicals in them give the vitamins in food a supercharged boost. So put away the vitamin pill and eat dark green, red, and yellow veggies and fruits.

    No. 6: Don't Smoke

    Heavy smokers get more severe and frequent colds. Even being around smoke hurts the immune system, your body's defense against germs.

    Smoke dries out the passages in your nose. It affects your cilia -- the delicate hairs that line your nose and lungs and help sweep away cold and flu viruses. Experts say just one cigarette can stop them from working for as long as 30 to 40 minutes.

    Today on WebMD

    hot toddy
    15 tips to help you feel better.
    man sneezing into elbow
    Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
     
    teen girl coughing
    Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
    elder berry
    Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
     
    Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
    Slideshow
    cold weather
    VIDEO
     
    Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
    Article
    Boy holding ear
    Slideshow
     
    woman receiving vaccine shot
    Article
    woman with fever
    Article
     
    Waking up from sleep
    Article
    woman with sore throat
    Slideshow