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    5 Ways to Avoid Colds and the Flu

    You don't want to spend this winter battling a runny nose, a nagging cough, or a fever. But colds and flu come with the season, right?

    They don't have to. Try this advice from the CDC.

    Get a flu shot

    The best time to get the flu vaccine is in October or November, but getting the vaccine later is better than not getting it. The young, those older than age 65, and the chronically ill are most at risk for complications from seasonal flu. The CDC recommends an annual flu shot for everyone age 6 months and older. There are three different flu shots available and your provider will help select the right one for you. Two things to remember: Flu shots don't cause the flu, and getting a flu shot won't protect you against the common cold.

    Wash your hands

    Wash your hands often. The viruses that cause colds and seasonal flu are spread by droplets, usually when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. The virus is airborne and enters your body through your nose or mouth, or from your hands after you have touched an object contaminated with the virus. For instance, if you share a phone or a computer keyboard, or touch public door handles, and put your hands near your face, the virus could enter your mouth or nose. Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water is best for cleaning cold viruses off your hands. If you don't have access to soap and water, consider carrying an alcohol-based hand cleaner with you.

    Use tissues, then toss them

    Don't stuff used tissues back in your pocket. Throw them away.

    Avoid contact

    Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home if you are sick to prevent spreading your illness. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve.

    Practice good health habits

    The CDC recommends that you follow general recommendations to stay healthy. These suggestions include: get plenty of sleep; be physically active; manage your stress; drink plenty of fluids; and eat nutritious food.