Everything Doctors Do To Avoid Getting Sick During Cold and Flu Season

Great advice, straight from the experts.

Nobody likes being sick—and most of us also want to ensure we don’t spread viruses or other contagious illnesses to our vulnerable loved ones. So, it’s important to do everything possible to minimize the risk of infection. This is especially true right now when we’re hearing about many areas of the country being hit hard with the triple whammy of COVID, the flu and RSV.

We asked a group of doctors to share the things they do to avoid getting sick during this time of year when the risk of illness is particularly high.

Much of this is common sense, tried-and-true advice we’ve been hearing for years, so it’s a good reminder to practice basic steps to prevent the spread of germs. And if these tactics can work for doctors—who are in close contact with many sick people all day long—they can surely be helpful for all of us.

Related: The Top RSV Symptoms to Watch Out For—and How To Tell if It’s Really a Cold, Flu or COVID

How Doctors Avoid Getting Sick

They wear masks and wash their hands

"Over the past few years, I've probably seen more than 1,500 COVID-positive patients and plenty of flu as well. So far, my family and I have managed to avoid getting COVID and I haven't tested positive for the flu in at least 15 years. Early on as a family medicine resident, I made the decision to do three things to help me stay healthy during cold and flu season: I started wearing a mask with every patient visit, I stopped using hand sanitizer because I didn't think it was as effective as simple soap and water, and I took the extra time to wash my hands with soap and water before and after every patient visit. Vaccines aren't perfect, but they certainly help. I encourage all of my patients to get their flu and COVID vaccines, and my wife and I do the same for our two young children every year.” – Dr. Brian Blank, MD, Founder of Ember Modern Medicine, a direct primary care family medicine practice in Greenville, South Carolina

Related: Experts Break Down Exactly How Long That Cold Will Last

They get their vaccines

“As a pediatric ENT, I am constantly in children’s ears, nose and throat, and they often cough right in my face. Wearing a mask and eye protection keeps viral particles from shooting me in the eye or going down my throat. I wash my hands a lot! The hospitals actually audit our hand washing (or foaming), so it becomes a ritual and is a good way to keep our hands clean. I get my vaccines when I'm supposed to, try to wolf down something relatively healthy for lunch while charting, and go to bed at somewhat regular hours. Supporting my body’s needs helps keep the immune system working (and drinking lots of water and coffee).” – Dr. Steven Goudy, MD, Pediatric ENT, Director of Pediatric Otolaryngology at Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, and the Founder/Chief Medical Offer at Dr. Noze Best, a tech company focused on providing at-home respiratory care for babies and toddlers.

Related: Here's What Flu Symptoms Look Like Day by Day

They utilize herbs and supplements

“The pandemic should cause all of us to think about masking as a way of preventing getting sick—and not just from COVID. During the earlier part of the pandemic when masking and social distancing were common, very few people were getting ill from things like colds and flu. Now that masks are off, people are starting to get sick again. At the beginning of the pandemic when we were grasping for something to use to help treat COVID patients, many unconventional treatments were utilized including certain vitamins and supplements, and some research has shown them to be effective.” – Dr. Matthew Mintz, MD, FACPauthor of "Medical Marijuana and CBD: A Physician's Guide for Patients."

There's no guarantee that vitamins and other nutritional supplements will keep you from getting sick, but they can help boost your immunity and may help with reducing the duration of a cold as well. And as the Cleveland Clinic shares, it's recommended that you get your vitamins through food sources if at all possible.

Next up, find out the right temperature to wash your hands so they're disinfected, according to the CDC