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With the shortage of flu shots, here are some things you can do to prevent colds and flu.
1. Ask for an alternative flu vaccine. FluMist, a nasal spray, is available for people between the ages of 5 and 49. While the spray's side effects are only mild, cold-like symptoms, there is a downside. FluMist is significantly more expensive than a regular flu shot and is not covered by all insurance companies. Like the flu shot itself, the spray can not be used by pregnant women, people with asthma, or people with allergies to eggs.
2. Wash your hands frequently. Most colds and flu are caused by direct contact. Prevent picking up someone else's germs by washing your hands as often as possible, especially after touching "common areas," like phones, doorknobs, or ATMs. If a sink is inconvenient, use an antibacterial hand gel. Keep Lysol wipes or another type of wipe handy to clean off common areas in the workplace such as your telephone and computer keypad.
3. Keep your hands away from your face. Your mother was right: Stop rubbing your eyes. Colds and flu enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth.
4. Use a tissue when you cough. Being polite isn't enough; you must cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough to prevent spreading germs, which easily live on your bare hands. Throw the used tissue out immediately. If you don't have a tissue, turn away from people and cough or sneeze into the air.
5. Avoid sick people. Yes, it's nice to bring chicken soup to a sick friend. But don't be naive. Even if you're just being kind, germs are still contagious. Similarly, stay home when you're sick. At work or at play, if you're under the weather, you'll probably make someone else feel that way too.
6. Get a good night's rest. Chances are you already feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. But think of how much time you'll lose if you're stuck sick in bed. Keep your body fit for the fight with the recommended seven to 10 hours of sleep.
7. Let's get physical. Not only does exercise help keep off those unwanted pounds, it also seems to stimulate the immune system and prevents you from getting sick.
8. Stop smoking. Here's yet another reason to quit. Smoke dries out your nasal passage and kills the cilia, the tiny hairs in your nose and lungs which help prevent mucus, as well as keep colds and flu out of your nasal passage.
9. Drink water. Not only is water great for your skin and diet, but those recommended eight glasses a day help clean out your system.
10. Eat healthy. A balanced diet keeps your system ready for any battle. Some experts believe the bacteria in low-fat yogurt and the phytochemicals in dark green, red, and yellow vegetables and fruit help ward off viruses.