MOST of you probably wonder how doctors personally battle nasty bugs. Here are their tips for keeping pains, aches, sniffles, and sneezes at bay.

Wash your hands to keep germs away: The advice you have probably heard dozens of times from your doctor — “wash your hands throughout the day” — really does prevent infections.

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Hands are veritable germ factories, so keep them away from your nose and mouth. Washing them with warm water and soap will kill the germs, but do not rush. Sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice and use a paper towel to dry your hand.

Keep cold and flu germs off surfaces: Colds and flu are caused by viruses, which can easily pass from person to person or from surface to person. Make it a habit to carry around little bottles of alcohol-based cleansers, and use them liberally. You may use antiseptic wipes to clean your desktops and telephones.

Exercise for immunity: A jog around the block a few times a week not only does wonders for your physique — it also prevents you from getting sick. There is something about making your heart pump that is good for your body. It strengthens your heart and strengthens your immune system.

Colds, flu, and herbal medicine: There has been a lot of buzz about herbal remedies preventing and shortening the duration of colds. Studies show that zinc can shorten the duration and reduce the severity of colds. A word of caution: If you do take herbal remedies, check with your doctor first. All-natural does not mean that they do not have side effects. More importantly, herbal remedies may interfere with medicines that you are already taking.

Does vitamin C help prevent colds? The jury is out on whether vitamin C can really prevent a cold. According to the latest research, vitamin C does not make a cold shorter or less severe. Generally, it will reduce the length of the symptoms by at least a day or two and will also help with the severity. An extra 500 milligrams a day is all you need.

Sore throat remedies: When their throats are scratchy and raw, doctors often find relief from items stocked in their pantry and fridge like herbal tea with honey and lemon. A study showed that buckwheat honey relieved children’s coughs, even better than the cough suppressants.

Chicken soup for colds and flu: Grandma’s good old-fashioned “penicillin” is another great soother of stuffed noses -- chicken soup! The vapor alone clears nasal passages and relieves the throbbing in the sinuses. The ingredients in chicken soup might actually have a medicinal effect on the body’s immune system thus easing the inflammation.

Preventing colds and flu with acupuncture: The ancient Chinese medical tradition of using hair-thin needles to stimulate pressure points around the body has been used to treat everything. Many studies show that acupuncture boosts our immune system.

The bottom line: Prevention is the key. Our experts all say that a flu shot is essential.

Do the basics which are: eat right, sleep right, exercise, and wash your hands. (Dr. Sheila Marie Ester S. Villanuevaa)