Winter, otherwise known as the season of sick, is upon us, and we’d all love to know the secret to sneeze-proofing our bodies. Aside from hand-washing and eating a nutritious, balanced diet, what can you do to dramatically cut your risk of catching a cold or the flu? In life there are no guarantees, but there are some proven preventive measures you can take to maximize your immune system’s defensive power and minimize your number of sick days. Here they are:
A neti pot is a container designed to wash out debris and mucus from your nasal cavity using saltwater. People suffering from nasal allergies, sinus problems or colds also can use it to treat their symptoms. For those looking to prevent colds and flu, a neti pot will help sweep away viral particles that you’ve breathed in during the day before they set up house and do real damage.
To irrigate your nasal passages, it's important to use bottled water that has been distilled or sterilized. You can also make your own saltwater solution by boiling (and then cooling) some salted water. For a simple recipe, WebMD.com recommends the following:
Use it every night before bedtime and send those viral particles packing.
How many times a day do you touch your face and deposit rogue germs on it? Probably a lot more than you think. But keeping your lips, eyes and nose “hands free” can greatly reduce your odds of getting sick. Have hyper hands? When you’re idle, watching TV or just hanging out, try sitting on them to resist the urge.
The science is pretty sound on this tip: both shorter sleep duration and lower sleep efficiency are associated with increased risk of developing a cold, as reported on the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website. In another study published in the journal Sleep, the adults who averaged five or six hours of sleep nightly during the study were four times more likely to catch a cold than people who slept at least seven hours per night. That’s the minimum amount of nightly sleep that The National Sleep Foundation recommends for adults.
And what’s a couple of extra hours? Listen to your body, and if it needs the extra rest, seize the slumber.
Since there are multiple flu strains and scientists can’t know for sure which ones will be most prevalent in a given year, the flu shot isn’t always 100%. But the vaccine still offers you a decent shot of protection. Even if your body succumbs to sickness, it’s likely to be a minor case.
Stuck in a dry office with coughers, snifflers and sneezers? Spending a day in an enclosed room with sick people raises your risk of catching a bug. If possible, crack open a window or prop open a door and let in some fresh air. This will keep airborne particles on the move, making it harder for them to invade your body and take root.
As you can see, there are many preventive steps you can take in the fight against cold and flu. If you use these shortcuts to strengthen your immune system and shield your body against invaders, a sneeze-free season could be yours at last.
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