Use these six innovative tips to sniffle-proof your whole family.

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Story Updated: Nov 7, 2012

p>This isn't just the start of holiday season; it's germ season as well. That's why many of us will be hacking away and looking a lot like Rudolph before winter is over. "The average adult gets one to three respiratory illnesses each year, and women, especially if they're moms, tend to catch even more," says Charles Gerba, an environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona and coauthor of The Germ Freak's Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu.

So how can you avoid getting sick? You already know you need to eat right, exercise and get enough sleep. And yes, you should get a flu shot now, even if you received one last year (visit FluClinicLocator.org to find out where you can get the vaccine near you). But don't stop there. Here are six surprising ways to help stay healthy and keep you and your family sniffle-free all season long:

1. Fill up on fiber.
It not only helps you feel full and lose weight, it also boosts your immune system. New research from the University of Illinois shows that fiber, which is abundant in fresh fruits and veggies, stimulates the activity of our white blood cells, which battle infection and help you stay healthy. And don't forget to add garlic to your dishes. It contains allicin, a potent germ-fighter. Cook it to release the most benefits, and try to eat some at least three times each week.

2. Get your dose of D.
During winter months, it's hard for your body to make enough vitamin D from sun exposure, and few foods contain a good amount. But vitamin D is the key to a strong immune system. According to recent research published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection, people downing 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily came down with 70 percent fewer colds and flu than those taking a placebo. Other research shows that getting enough vitamin D may lead to less cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious diseases.

3. Fend off the flu with sex.
According to researchers at Wilkes University, making love just once or twice a week boosts your levels of flu-fighting antibodies by a whopping 30 percent. If your loved one is sick, however, stay away.

4. Avoid the worst germ hot-spots.

  • Elevator buttons. Push them with your keys, a credit card or a gloved finger. Ditto for ATM screens.
  • The office fridge, microwave and water fountain. Use a paper towel to open them and turn them on.
  • Your co-worker's candy bowl. If other people have been dipping in, there's more than M&M'S in there.
  • The handle of your supermarket cart. Carry sanitizing wipes with you to disinfect it before shopping.
  • Public restrooms. After washing your hands, turn off all faucets with paper towels and be sure to open the exit door with one (it's the germiest spot of all).

5. Choose the right cleaning products.
Using the wrong ones could end up simply pushing the germs around instead of killing them. Unfortunately, most green products won't do the job. Only the sprays, liquids and wipes labeled "disinfecting" or "sanitizing" will kill germs, including the cold and flu viruses. Look for an Environmental Protection Agency number, which ensures the product has been tested for effectiveness, and follow product instructions exactly.

6. Wash, wash and wash some more.
You know you should wash your hands before you eat to stay healthy. But Gerba advises also scrubbing up as soon as you enter your home or workplace to wash away all the germs you picked up getting there. Rub the top and bottoms of your hands under water (it doesn't matter if it's hot or cold) for as long as it would take you to sing "Happy Birthday" twice. Soap won't actually kill germs, but it helps them slide off your hands. Nowhere to wash? Use a hand-sanitizing gel with at least 60 percent alcohol, which protects against the flu by destroying the outer layer of the virus.

Copyright (c) 2012 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.

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The New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford is a 242 bed facility located in Chenango County about thirty miles north of Binghamton NY. Situated on a sixty acre site, the Home has spectacular scenic views of rural countryland. We provide state of the art medical, nursing, psychosocial, and rehabilitative services to our residents. We also have several academic affiliations including the Upstate Medical Center College of Medicine/Clinical Campus at Binghamton.

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Dr. Dzwonczyk – Medical Director

Dr. Dzwonczyk Receives Certification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

It is with great pleasure that we announce that Philip J. Dzwonczyk, MD has been certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Dr. Dzwonczyk joins more than nineteen hundred fellow physicians to have achieved such certification.

Hospice and palliative medicine is the medical discipline of the broad therapeutic model known as hospice and palliative care. The discipline and model of care are devoted to achieving the best possible quality of life for the patient and family throughout the course of a life-threatening illness through the relief of suffering and the control of symptoms. Hospice and palliative medicine helps the patient and family face the prospect of death assured that comfort will be a priority, values and decisions will be respected, spiritual and psychosocial needs will be addressed, practical support will be available and opportunities will exist for growth and development. Hospice in the United States is an organized program that provides palliative care for terminally ill patients and supportive services to patients, their families, and significant others.

Dr. Dzwonczyk is the medical director of the New York State Veterans Home in Oxford. He recently completed the Harvard Medical School Program in Palliative Care Education and Practice and has worked for many years as an internist and geriatrician practicing in central New York. Dr. Dzwonczyk received his undergraduate degree from the University of Scranton and his doctor of medicine degree from Jefferson Medical College. He trained in internal medicine and psychiatry at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and holds specialty certificates in Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine. He has achieved Certified Medical Director status from the American Medical Directors Association and is a Fellow of both the American College of Physicians and the American Geriatrics Society. Dr. Dzwonczyk has directed the medical care of patients at the New York State Veterans Home since 1993 and has been active as a medical educator. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Upstate Medical University and is active as a member of the faculty of the Geriatric Medicine Clerkship of the Clinical Campus in Binghamton. In addition to his interest in palliative care, Dr. Dzwonczyk has an interest in the evaluation and management of cognitive and mood disorders of the elderly.

The American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine was formed in 1995 to establish and measure the level of knowledge, attitudes and skills required for certification of physicians practicing hospice and palliative medicine. Eligibility requirements for certification are significant. In order to be eligible to sit for the certifying examination, applicants must have received prior major specialty certification, practiced at least two years following residency, worked as a member of an interdisciplinary team for at least two years and have directly participated in the active care of at least fifty terminally ill patients in the preceding three years. Alternatively, applicants must have completed specialty fellowship training in palliative medicine. The fellowship training program must be at least one year in length and must meet the established voluntary standards for such a program.

ABHPM conducts its Certification Examination in Hospice and Palliative Medicine annually at multiple sites through the United States. Currently, 1908 physicians have been certified by virtue of meeting certification requirements, including successful completion of this examination. A listing of currently certified physicians may be viewed on the Boards website at www.ABHPM.org.

Information on the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine may be obtained from the website at www.ABHPM.org or by call (301) 439-8001.

Welcome to New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford