By Brian New

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DALLAS (CBS11) – No matter how hard you try avoiding the cold virus this time of year can seem near impossible.

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Dr. Matthew Bush at Medical City Dallas said far and away the best thing you can do is wash your hands.

Ways To Stop A Cold Before It Starts

He also said it’s not too late for the flu vaccine.

“It’s not ideal as we would like you to get that vaccine in late September and October… but it’s definitely not too late,” he said.

While Dr. Bush said he’ll stick with hand washing and vaccinations, other medical studies suggest there’s even more we can do to avoid the cold and flu.

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Here are the Top 5 surprising ways to avoid getting sick.

1. Wash your washing machine
Sure you wash your clothes to kill germs, but when was the last time you washed your washing machine.
Bacteria and fungus can build up over time especially in the seals of front-loading washing machines.
Many manufactures offer a specialized cleaner, although two tablespoons of white vinegar will also do the trick. Just put the white vinegar where the detergent usually goes and run the clean cycle.
Most manufactures recommend you do this one a month.

2. Avoid alcohol
Too much alcohol can depress your immune system which make you more susceptible to colds.
Plus, if you’re already sick, some doctors say even a single drink can prolong a virus for several more days.

3. Avoid too much sugar
Much like alcohol, too much sugar hinders your white blood cells from fighting off viruses and bacteria.
Doctors say even two cans of soda can curb your immune system for several hours.

4. Exercise (but not too hard)
While it’s well documented that exercising can boost your immune system, working out too hard can have the opposite effect. After long and extremely intense physical activity, there’s a 72-hour period in which your body is distressed. It’s during this time that your more susceptible to getting sick. However, Dr. Bush said people who exercise too hard are rare, and a lot more could stand to exercise more.

5. Hold your breath
Every time someone sneezes, tiny droplets containing the cold virus are expelled into the air. A recent study by M.I.T. revealed those droplets travel in some cases more than 20 feet. The theory is if you hold your breath for ten seconds just as someone near you sneezes, it will give the cloud of droplets time to disperse and could help keep some of the germs from getting into your system.

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