It’s that time of year again, cold season. It starts with one cough from Michael, two cubicals down from you. Now your kids are sniffling every five seconds in the back seat and you feel a tickle in your throat.

The common cold, caused by the rhinovirus, isn’t usually deadly to those with average immune systems. But it is a major inconvenience, and can even knock you off your game for a few days.

The greatest cure for the common cold is prevention and there are some simple steps to reduce your risks of catching a cold.

Being Cold and Catching a Cold Are Linked:

Researchers still aren’t sure why cold temperatures and the rhinovirus are linked. Perhaps the virus grows better in cold temperatures. Perhaps the immune system is less effective in the colder areas of the body like the nose. Research is still sorting out the answer, but one study confirmed that people with higher internal core temperatures had a more active innate immune system that fought off viruses better and created enzymes that broke down the viral genome more effectively. So, wrap a scarf around your nose when it gets cold, and make sure to wash your hands so any virus you come in contact with doesn’t spread from your hands to your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Traveling Lowers Your Immune System:

The holidays are when many people travel to visit loved ones. But traveling increases your risk of getting sick. More places means more germ exposure. Traveling also increases stress which correlates to a lowering of the immune system’s response to new irritants. Finally, we tend to sleep less when we travel, our bodies do a great deal of recuperation while we sleep. The less quality sleep we get the less time the body has to strengthen  itself against attack. If you have to travel this holiday season; stay hydrated, wash your hands frequently, and try to get as much sleep as possible. Catching a cold away from home is the pits.

Strengthen Your Digestive System:

80% of your immunity is in your gut, make sure you’re taking care of yourself by starting a probiotics regimen. Taking probiotics, either in the food you eat or as a dietary supplement supports digestive health. Introducing good bacteria to your digestive tract improves your ability to fight off sicknesses in the long run. And if you’re traveling really far this holiday season, taking probiotics reduces your risk of traveler’s diarrhea.

If it’s already too late for preventative methods, probiotics can reduce the number of days you have a common cold. Studies show probiotics could stimulate antibody production, if taken when you start catching a cold, moving the rhinovirus out of your system quicker.

Whether you choose a supplement or a food source for probiotics, there are a number of avenues available to help you make this healthy lifestyle change.