How to Avoid Colds, RSV, and Flu When COVID Gets All the Attention

Woman suffering from cold flu


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Woman suffering from cold flu

Preventive Measures

While the coronavirus continues to be the headline-grabber, it shouldn't overshadow a few other bugs that can lay you low — no one is immune to cold and flu season, and scientists are warning of a tripledemic of flu, Covid-19, and RSV this year. Dry winter weather and enclosed spaces create breeding grounds for germs, and coming down with something may require a pricey trip to the doctor or a small fortune for medications. Boost your immunity and stay healthy by following these painless and inexpensive tips. 

Related: Where to Get Cheap Flu Shots: Walmart vs. CVS vs. Costco and More

Wash Your Hands
Don't Touch Your Face
miodrag ignjatovic/istockphoto

Don't Touch Your Face

It's impossible to know when you're coming in contact with nasty microorganisms invisible to the naked eye. To stay healthy, avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes — all entry points for germs — until you can wash your hands.

Related: Americans Top 10 Biggest Fears About the Pandemic

Keep Your Hands Off Public Fixtures

Keep Your Hands Off Public Fixtures

Elevator buttons, door handles, railings, water fountains — all are crawling with germs. Most are probably harmless, but avoid touching anything unnecessarily to eliminate some exposure.

Related: Sneeze Guards and Plexiglass Shields to Stay Safe at Work

Get Plenty of Vitamin D

Get Plenty of Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a key role in helping ward off illness, but many of us don't get enough of it. Soaking up sun is perhaps the simplest and cheapest way to get more vitamin D, but it's not always easy, especially in the dead of winter. Reach for foods rich in vitamin D, including egg yolks, fish (such as shrimp, sardines, and wild-caught salmon), cereal, fortified orange juice, milk, and yogurt.

You Won't Have to Deal with Public Transit

Avoid Crowds

Enclosed, crowded spaces are likely to harbor the latest bug going around. While you can't avoid other people altogether, whenever possible, steer clear of places that tend to be crowded, such as concerts, sporting events, hospitals, airplanes, and subways. When venturing into a throng is unavoidable, wash your hands as soon as possible, don't touch your face, and keep your distance from anyone who is obviously sick.

Stay Hydrated
Anti-Inflammatory: Honey

Try Some Honey

Feel a cough coming on? Soothe your throat with a tablespoon of honey. Honey has antibacterial properties and has been used for centuries as a healing agent (ancient Egyptians and Greeks were big fans). More high-quality studies are needed to determine whether honey can really beat a cold, according to Mayo Clinic, but it's an ingredient in numerous DIY cold remedies from around the world.

Drink Tea
Exercise Regularly

Try a Probiotic

Available in the form of pills or food (try kefir, yogurt, or miso), probiotics may help the gut function properly and prevent nasty bugs from taking root. Although taking a probiotic is an option many natural health practitioners promote, results are not guaranteed. 

Related: I Took Probiotics and My Digestive Health Worsened

Deborah Kolb/shutterstock


Stress, especially chronic stress, can wreak havoc on the immune system. While it may not be possible to cut down on all stress triggers, it is possible to deal with them more effectively. Deep-breathing exercises, yoga, walking outside, and meditation all can help.


Clean Surfaces

At work, shared property such as the microwave, refrigerator, coffee machine, and door handles can benefit from being wiped down with a sanitizer. At home, the handles on the entry and bathroom doors and the light switches all need more than a weekly or biweekly cleaning. And don't forget the gym: It's a good idea to wipe down weights with a sanitizing wipe or spray (most gyms provide them) before beginning a set.

Closeup of Two Male Hands Cleaning a Smartphone While Holding It

Sanitize Your Phone

Think about all the germs that accrue on a cellphone as the screen is swiped repeatedly throughout the day. Worse, it's pressed against the face and mouth when used to make a call. Make a habit of wiping down the phone daily with wipes approved for electronics and use hands-free accessories to place and receive calls.

Related: 16 Filthy Things Even Clean Freaks Miss

Carry a Pen

Carry a Pen

Pens are often needed at the bank, the doctor's office, the grocery store, restaurants, and elsewhere. Instead of using a pen that hundreds of others have touched, carry your own as a very simple way to cut down on germ exposure.

Use Disposables

Use Disposables

If someone in your household comes down with a cold, flu, or GI bug, switch temporarily to throwaway cups, paper towels, and the like. Disposables can be pricey and are not environmentally friendly, but they're a simple, short-term way to reduce the spread of germs. While Clorox wipes are hard to find, look for other known brands where you shop.

Related: Disinfecting Wipes Will Destroy These Products