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What Doctors Do to Avoid Cold & Flu

By Kate Silver - This article originally published on GetOld.com

We spoke with three doctors to find out how they stay healthy. Here’s what they said.

THEY WASH THEIR HANDS. A LOT.

Every doctor interviewed agreed that washing your hands is important when it comes to staying healthy and keeping germs at bay.

Larry Altshuler, MD, a practicing internist, hospitalist and the author of the Doctor, Say What? book series, is a frequent hand washer. He washes his hands before and after seeing patients, after being around people in public (especially on buses and airplanes), and after being around family members who have a cold or flu.

Mia Finkelston, MD, a board certified family physician who provides patient consultations via video chat on the website LiveHealth Online, says that in addition to washing her hands frequently, she also avoids touching her face. “Germs can travel from your hands into your mouth or nasal passages. During patient hours, or even when simply going to the grocery store, I never touch my face,” she says. “If I touch my face, I can spread my germs with the next touch I give and I can potentially get germs from others.”

THEY GET THE FLU SHOT.

Anne Albers, MD, a cardiologist in Columbus, Ohio with OhioHealth Heart and Vascular Physicians, says that associates in her practice are encouraged to get the flu vaccine. “I get a flu shot every year,” she says. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu vaccine can reduce the risk of flu by 50 to 60 percent.

Altshuler (Doctor, Say What?) also gets the flu vaccine and recommends that patients do, too. “This vaccine not only decreases the risk of getting the flu, but also decreases the severity of symptoms if you get the flu. It more importantly decreases the potential complications, including death,” he says.

Finkelston (LiveHealth Online) gathers a special kit each season so she’s ready, just in case. “I prepare my ‘Flu kit’ in September and then have meds at the ready if I do get sick. My flu kit includes fizzy vitamin drinks that contain other key nutrients that I believe help fight off infections, over the counter medicines for pain and fever relief,a cough expectorant/suppressant, a eucalyptus rub, antiseptic throat spray, salt (for saline drops and gargles) and some throat lozenges with menthol,” she says.

THEY TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES.

All of the doctors interviewed for this story agree that it’s important to take care of you first. That means getting enough sleep, eating the right foods and exercising regularly to help bolster your immune system.

“I eat for health,” says Albers (OhioHealth). She avoids eating processed foods and drinking excess alcohol, eats lots of fruits and vegetables, and tries to make home-prepared meals using local ingredients.

“I try to live my life by realizing that sleep, exercise and eating nutrient-dense foods as a daily habit keeps me healthy,” says Finkelston (LiveHealth Online). “Seven to nine hours of sleep every night is ideal. If I am short on that I feel less prepared for the daily germs and stresses that come my way.”

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