(Family Features) While there are no foolproof ways to keep germs away, you can lessen your chances of getting sick and make sure you’re equipped to weather cold and flu season.

  • Practice healthy habits. Keeping your body in prime condition helps in fighting back when germs attack. That means keeping up with exercise and ensuring you’re getting enough vitamins and nutrients through a well-balanced diet.
  • Get a flu shot. The flu shot gives your body a head start in fighting flu bugs. If you’re exposed to the flu after receiving the shot, your body can immediately go on the offensive against those germs. You may not stay completely symptom-free, but you’re more likely to experience a mild case and be back on your feet more quickly.
  • Restock the medicine cabinet. The start of cough, cold, and flu season is an ideal time to dig through your medicine cabinet. Start by discarding medications that are out of date, and make a list of anything you need to replenish. Be sure to include pain relievers, fever reducers, decongestants, antihistamines, and cough syrups to fight symptoms. It’s also a good time to restock items like tissues, cough drops, hand sanitizer, and anti-bacterial soap.

It’s often hard to tell at first whether your symptoms are due to a simple cough, cold, or a case of the flu. Either way, managing symptoms like a cough can bring relief and help you keep comfortable and get needed rest.

  • Give your body time to heal. Sleep plays an important role in your overall health, especially when you’re under the weather. On average, you need seven to nine hours each night to give your body enough time to fully recharge. When you’re sick, you likely need even more, and it’s a good idea to dial back your activity level, too. Pushing your physical limits often only delays your recovery time.
  • Take medications as directed. Nagging symptoms can keep you from getting the sleep you need. One way to give your body the break it needs is to effectively manage symptoms. A hacking cough is a common symptom that can be painful and disrupt your sleep. Consider a cough suppresent, which relieves chest congestion and thins and loosens mucus, giving you an extended reprieve, providing relief for chest congestion, and making coughs more productive.

Help prevent those around you from getting ill.

  • Keep germs to yourself. Wash your hands often, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and sneeze into your elbow if you don’t have a tissue. Frequently wipe down high-touch surfaces to reduce the spread of germs.
  • Skip socializing. If you’re feeling under the weather, stay home. Even a mild cold can easily spread and cause significant distress for someone else. Avoid unnecessary errands, take advantage of curbside pickup if you must get out, and check with your employer about working remotely if you’re up to it.

Find more helpful tips at Mucinex.com.