Cold & Flu Common Cold Print 3 Things You Can Do to Prevent a Cold By Kristina Duda, RN Updated October 27, 2016 Medically reviewed by a board-certified physician More in Cold & Flu Common Cold Prevention Symptoms Treatment Flu Related Illnesses 1 Wash Your Hands BSIP/UIG/Universal Images Group/Getty Images Washing your hands is the number one way to prevent infection. We touch so many surfaces and carry far more germs than we realize. Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently is essential if you want to decrease the chances that you get sick. Even though colds are respiratory, they are primarily spread through droplets that carry the viruses. Those virus-filled droplets could be on a door handle, grocery cart handle, telephone or counter that you touch virtually anywhere. If you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your face (eyes, nose, mouth, etc) the chances are good that those germs can make you sick. Studies have shown that we touch our faces much more often than we think we do. So washing your hands—or cleaning them with hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available—frequently is the very best way to reduce the risk those germs will enter your body. 2 Eat Right. Exercise. Get Enough Sleep. DrAfter123/DigitalVisionVectors/Getty Images If you have ever read anything about staying healthy, you have likely seen these recommendations before. An essential part of making sure you don't get sick with a cold or other common illness is keeping your body and immune system as healthy as possible. That means eating healthy food, exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep. Should You Take Multivitamins?Improve Your Health With More Sleep If you smoke, you need to stop. If you live with other people, you are putting them at risk by exposing them to secondhand smoke as well. It may not be easy, but you are at much higher risk for getting sick and suffering from cold or flu complications like pneumonia or bronchitis. If you have difficulty quitting or don't know how then start here: Your Quit Smoking Toolbox Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is important as well. Clean your environment (including door handles, cell phones, and other frequently touched surfaces) often to cut down on germs. 3 Stay Away From Sick People E+/Getty Images This is not always possible. You can't stay inside alone all the time but you can avoid intentionally spending a lot of time in close proximity with people that are sick (unless you work in the medical field, of course). If someone you come into contact with is obviously sick, try to stay at least six feet away from them (that's the average distance germs spread when a person coughs or sneezes). Politely avoid shaking hands or touching them and wash your hands after any contact. Can I Have Sex When I'm Sick? Other than these three common sense steps, there isn't a lot you can do to avoid getting colds. Adults get an average of two to four colds per year and kids can get up to 12. There is no vaccine to prevent them and there likely never will be since they are caused by over 200 different viruses. Do what you can to stay healthy and if you do get a cold, know that is won't last long. We have plenty of options for cold symptom relief as well. What to Do If You Get a Cold4 Ways to Treat Your Cold at HomeHome Remedies to Treat Your Cold and Flu Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Looking to avoid getting the flu? Our free guide has everything you need to stay healthy this season. Sign up and get yours today. Email Address Sign Up There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. What are your concerns? Other Inaccurate Hard to Understand Submit Article Sources "Common Cold." MedlinePlus 15 Jun 15. Medical Encyclopedia. US National Library of Medicine. US Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health.