Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising can help the immune system better fight off the germs that cause illness. Because smoking interferes with the mechanisms that keep bacteria and debris out of the lungs, those who use tobacco or who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more prone to respiratory illnesses and more severe complications than nonsmokers.
If you’ve been feeling run down, some stress management might not be a bad idea. David Skoner, M.D., chief of allergy and immunology at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, has studied the effects of chronic stress on susceptibility to cold and flu infections. “We’ve found that people who experience more stress are more likely to get sick and experience worse symptoms,” he says. Examples of chronic stress are personal crises such as going through a divorce or feeling stuck in a bad job.
“Research has also shown that the more social you are, the less likely you are to get sick,” Skoner says. It could be because having more social contacts and support is less stressful than keeping to yourself, he says.
(Source: MEDline plus Health Information, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.)>