As a doctor, I’m always exposed to plenty of germs. And with two kids — who also bring home lots of colds and infections — it’s definitely a battle to keep healthy!

The good news about colds and coughs? Most are viral, and will eventually get better on their own. The bad news: it will take time, and some colds can turn into sinusitis and other more serious infections. That’s why preventing infection goes a long way.

Here’s what I do to keep from getting sick:

  1. Wash my hands. I know you’ve heard it before, but it works. If you are vigilant about washing your hands for the proper amount of time (think singing ”Happy Birthday” twice) before you eat, after you use the bathroom, and even before touching your eyes or lips, you will prevent the majority of colds/coughs and viral infections.
  2. Use hand sanitizer. If you don’t have soap and water, this is the next best thing.
  3. Eat a healthy and colorful diet. Fruits and vegetables have a number of vitamins and minerals that work with the immune system to help fight off of infections, often before you even know you have them.
  4. Get enough sleep. Research has shown that chronic sleep loss can impact the immune system. The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
  5. Clean surfaces. I wipe off my phone and my keyboard, and clean my hands after touching doorknobs. Some viruses can only live on surfaces for seconds while others last for days. And remember, handshakes can often transmit viruses, so don’t forget about tip #1.