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How to avoid catching a cold or flu this winter

As media hysteria surrounding the emergence of bird flu and emerging viral infections in general rises, check out the advice from a family MD Dr Mark Mengel on how to to avoid the sniffles this winter. Try the flu clinic locator to the left, just enter your zipcode in the box and hit the enter/return key.

  • Every time you shake hands, make a mental note to wash yours. And, wash frequently at other times too. Running lots of water over your hands thoroughly dilutes the virus and sends it down the drain.
  • Try not to touch your nose and eyes. These are places through which the cold virus can enter your body.
  • Get enough sleep - eight to ten hours a night. You cannot fight colds and other viruses as effectively if you become fatigued because you aren't spending enough time in the sack to recharge your batteries.
  • If you smoke, stop. Smoking destroys the cilia - little hair-like fibres inside the nose and lungs - working cilia keep mucus from clogging the lining of the nose and lungs and so reduce the risk of viral entry.
  • Don't eat after double dippers at holiday buffets. The person who nabs a second and third dollop of ranch dressing on the same carrot stick may be passing the virus on to those who eat after them.

And, if you do catch a cold or flu, Dr Mengel has one more tip, don't tough it out at work - Stay home! And, if you're not sure whether Dr Mengel's tips will work, then you could try our experiment on whether covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze stops the spread of germs - coughs and colds science project.

If you think you've caught something nastier than a cold, check out our symptoms of bird flu page, just in case. And, if you're really worried about bird flu then prepare you and your family for the worst with this ebook on bird flu book