Sick of those colds? Here are some tips to stop them before they start

Each year, Americans suffer one billion colds. Adults average about two to four colds a year and it can take up to two weeks to start feeling better.

A cough, a sneeze, a runny nose, and a fever. They’re all unwelcome symptoms of the common cold. The good news … doctors say there are ways to prevent colds before symptoms even begin.

First, try a humidifier. Dry mucous membranes can hinder your body’s ability to trap and eliminate germs as they enter your system.

Also, stop touching your face! One study found participants touched their face an average of 16 times per hour.

Make sure your phone stays clean, too. A study found cellphones may carry about 10 times the number of bacteria as toilet seats.

And get serious about handwashing … scrubbing for at least 20 seconds getting between your fingers and underneath your nails.

“These are effective and generally safe and easy practices that everyone should be doing as they go about their daily routine,” says Dr. Ronan Factora, a geriatrics specialist at Cleveland Clinic.

Also, you may want to take a vitamin D supplement. Research shows people who lack this vitamin are more likely to suffer an upper respiratory infection. Some studies suggest taking 400 international units a day can prevent infection.

“Make sure that you’re well-rested and you get a good night’s sleep. That’s a risk factor for getting sick for sure,” said Factora.

One study found participants who regularly got less than seven hours of sleep were three times more likely to come down with a cold than those who slept eight or more hours.

Probiotics may also protect you from the common cold. A New Zealand study found rugby players who took a probiotic supplement experienced significantly fewer colds and GI infections than those who took a placebo.