Mercy Internist Dr. Marc Leavey Discusses Ways To Boost Your Immunity During Cold And Flu Season

January 20, 2014
Primary Care Physicians - Mercy Medical Center

Mercy Medical Center Internist Dr. Marc Leavey

When it comes to preventing colds and flu, Betty Perry will tell you her first line of defense is washing her hands.

"What I do is wash my hands very frequently and I try to use the proper techniques to wash my hands, of course, because that's important to get between the fingers and up on the wrists," she said.

According to Mercy internist Dr. Marc Leavey of Lutherville Personal Physicians, hand-washing is the most important weapon against colds and flu.

"Certainly before touching your face, your eyes, your nose or your mouth, and the best way to wash your hands is to sing 'Happy Birthday' to your left hand and 'Happy Birthday' to your right hand while you're washing your hands," Dr. Leavey said.

"I go to bed early, and I get up early so that I can get to the gym," Perry said.

Getting adequate sleep and exercise are two other ways to combat colds and flu.

"Make sure that you're getting adequate rest to allow your body to regain the energy that it's lost through the course of the day with a good night's sleep," Dr. Leavey said. "We're not talking about exercising for weight loss here, but just for general health, 15-20 minutes a day is fantastic. If you can't do it every day so you do it five days a week, at least get some exercise in."

And it's not too late to get a flu shot.

"The flu vaccine clearly helps to prevent the flu or lessen the severity of a case of the flu. As we get older, it's a little bit less effective, interestingly enough, but it still does prevent a substantial chunk of the flu and it's important to get a flu shot," Dr. Leavey said.

Last, but certainly not least, is healthy eating.

"So you really want to eat good food -- fruits, vegetables, meats, protein, fish, chicken, dairy -- all of it in a well-balanced combination. There are all kinds of nutrients out there that are in these foods," Dr. Leavey said.

"I haven't had a serious cold in a long time," Perry said.

If you're not as lucky as Perry and you do get sick, Leavey said, "There's an old saying, feed a cold, starve a fever. Not true. Please, eat and drink to your capacity. Fluids are good, chicken soup is good, hot tea and honey is good, but do what you can do to make yourself feel better."

View Dr. Marc Leavey’s interview with WBAL-TV11 regarding ways to boost your immunity against colds and flu.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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