Welcome to the 2019-2020 cold season! Happily, I'm not worried about getting sick. Because I've got a plan I follow that makes avoiding colds easy.

It was different a few years ago. Once the winter set in, my immune system was on a roller coaster getting thrashed between various illnesses - colds, sinusitis, stomach bugs, you name it. As soon as I finally would start to get my energy back, one of my kids would bring something home from school and the cycle started again.

Over the years, necessity (and a little research) led me to a few cool cold killing hacks. Here are my five best tips for staying healthy during the cold season.

Take a probiotic (like Primal Defense Ultra)

Only in hindsight did I realize that the worse my stomach was, the more I got sick. My toughest cold season ever was also a season I was trying out two stomach-wrecking Chinese herbs to lower my blood pressure naturally (btw, they didn't work).

In an act of desperation, I started taking probiotics to help my stomach. They helped my digestion a bit, but more importantly I didn't get sick the rest of the season.

After a little more research and experimentation I settled on Primal Defense Ultra, a probiotic specifically designed to boost immunity. Now, when I feel a cold coming on, I immediately take two pills. That one simple action usually stops my colds dead in their tracks.

Keep your hands below your neck

You probably know that colds aren't spread by the cold, they are spread by a virus. Specifically, when that virus enters your system through your nose, ears, or mouth. Sure, you might just be unlucky and have someone sneeze on you; but the more likely cause is that somehow you touched your mouth, face, nose, or ears and the virus snuck in. You probably don't realize how often you touch your face. You probably want to touch your face now. Just say no!

Wash your hands (often) according to WHO guidelines

I always felt diligent about handwashing, but to become a handwashing master, do this.

Do it with hot water

And dry firmly with a towel that wasn't used by someone else.

Don't have immediate access to hot water? Alcohol hand washes are a decent backup option.

These things might make your hands dryer than normal in an already dry season. Deal with it, or try Michell's favorite hand lotion.

Avoid sick people

OK, this one is obvious, and it can be a little socially awkward...but I'd much rather say "let's get together when you're better" than be patient zero in my family of five. Sick people have germs. Sickness can spread through germs. Avoid getting more germs around than you need. Pretty simple, right?

Have someone sick in your house? Quarantine them. Just make sure you repay the favor by quarantining yourself when you're the one with the bug. The first 48 hours after you feel it coming on seem to be the most critical.

Use a saline rinse, but don't overdo it

Sinus rinses were all the rage a few years ago - here's an example from Amazon. Studies like this (and my personal experience) show that they can really reduce the number and severity of colds. They are also pretty great decongestants and rinses for those with allergies.

But, be gentle on your nose! Some people go overboard with saline rinses - in the end, although it seems harmless ("it's just salt"), you are disrupting the natural environment of the nose and sinuses. I used to be very aggressive with sinus rinsing but noticed I got nosebleeds when I used them too frequently. In simple terms: use them but don't abuse them.

Also consider experimenting with "hypertonic" solutions (simple version - use two packets of powdered solution instead of one). The science here is a little more debatable, but nobody is arguing it's WORSE than normal saline. It can sting a little bit so modify the strength as needed.

May you stay healthy throughout the season!

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