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14 Ways to Prevent a Nasty Cold or Flu

Sick of suffering through the sniffles? Next time you feel a cold coming on try one of these strategies to bring it to a dead halt.

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1. Use Your Knuckle to Rub Your Eyes

It’s less likely to be contaminated with viruses than your fingertip. This is particularly important because the eye provides a perfect entry point for germs, and the average person rubs his eyes or nose or scratches his face 20-50 times a day, notes Jordan Rubin, Ph.D., author of The Maker’s Diet.

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2. Nuke Your Toothbrush on High for Ten Seconds

You think it gets your teeth clean-and it does. But once you’re done brushing, your toothbrush is a breeding ground for germs. Sterilize it in the microwave before you use it, or simply replace it every month, or after you’ve had a cold.

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3. Wash Your Hands and Wash Them Often

When the U.S.-based Naval Health Research Center conducted a study of 40,000 recruits who were ordered to wash their hands five times a day, the recruits cut their incidence of respiratory illnesses by 45 per cent.

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4. Carry Hand Sanitizer With You

Carry hand sanitizer gel or sanitizing towelettes with you and you can clean your hands anytime, even if the closest water supply is 100 miles away. It works. One study of absenteeism due to infection in elementary schools found schools using the gel sanitizer had absentee rates from infection nearly 20 per cent lower than those using other hand-cleaning methods.

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5. Avoid the Blame Game

Believe it or not, blaming yourself makes you more likely to catch a cold! At least, that’s what researchers found when they studied more than 200 workers over three months. Even those who had control over their work were more likely to begin sneezing if they lacked confidence or tended to blame themselves when things went wrong.

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6. Put a Box of Tissues Wherever People Sit

Buy a six or twelve-pack of tissue boxes and strategically place them around the house, your workplace, and your car. Don’t let aesthetics stop you. You need tissues widely available so that anyone who has to cough or sneeze or blow his nose will do so in the way least likely to spread germs.

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7. Leave the Windows Open a Crack in Winter

Not all of them, but one or two in the rooms in which you spend the most time. This is particularly important if you live in a newer home, where fresh circulating air has been the victim of energy efficiency. A bit of fresh air will do wonders for chasing out germs.

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8. Lower the Heat in Your House Five Degrees

The dry air of an overheated home provides the perfect environment for cold viruses to thrive. And when your mucous membranes (nose, mouth, and tonsils) dry out, they can’t trap those germs very well. Lowering the temperature and using a room humidifier helps maintain a healthier level of humidity in the winter.

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9. Invest in a Hygrometer

These little tools measure humidity. You want your home to measure around 50 per cent. A consistent measure higher than 60 per cent means mold and mildew may start to set in your walls, fabrics, and kitchen; lower than 40 per cent and the dry air makes you more susceptible to germs.

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10. Sit in a Sauna Once a Week

Why? Because an Austrian study published in 1990 found that volunteers who frequently used a sauna had half the rate of colds during the six-month study period than those who didn’t use a sauna at all. It’s possible that the hot air you inhale kills cold viruses. Most gyms have saunas these days, so give it a shot.

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11. Inhale Air From Your Blow-Dryer

It sounds nuts, we know. But one study conducted at Harvard Hospital in England found that people who breathed heated air had half the cold symptoms of people who inhaled air at room temperature. Set the dryer on warm, not hot, and hold it at least 18 inches from your face. Breathe in the air through your nose for as long as you can-20 minutes is best.

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12. A Garlic Supplement a Day

When 146 volunteers received either one garlic supplement a day or a placebo for 12 weeks between November and February, those taking the garlic were not only less likely to get a cold, but if they did catch one, their symptoms were less intense and they recovered faster.

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13. Eat a Container of Yogurt Every Day

A study from the University of California-Davis found that people who ate one cup of yogurt-whether live culture or pasteurized-had 25 percent fewer colds than non-yogurt eaters. Start your yogurt eating in the summer to build up your immunity before cold and flu season starts.

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14. Don’t Be Lazy With Laundry

Change or wash your hand towels every three or four days during cold and flu season. When you wash them, use hot water in order to kill the germs.

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