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Apps and Appliances to Boost Immunity, Soothe Flu Symptoms

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The best defense against the flu is the vaccine, which can reduce the risk of contracting the illness by 59 percent.  But there's also an array of gadgets that can boost your protection and soothe your symptoms if you do get infected.

Check out these flu-fighting apps and appliances:

-- Neti Pot: The Neti pot is an ancient nasal irrigation system used to flush the sinuses with warm salt water.  It can help ease the congestion that often stems from the flu.  But don't overdo it.  People who irrigated daily were more prone to sinus infections, according to a 2009 study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting.

-- Humidifier: Chapped lips and dry, sore skin -- especially under the nose -- are par for the course during flu season.  A humidifier can help keep the air moist, easing the dryness.  It might also help halt the spread of the flu, according to a 2009 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

-- Nasal Strips: Nasal strips can help pull the nostrils open to ease congestion, especially at night.  Some strips contain menthol -- a vaporized plant extract that can relive congestion and make breathing easier.

-- Pillbox: Flu medications come in all shapes, sizes and formulations. If you ditched the drug packaging in a flu-induced haze, make sure you know what you're taking by checking -- a pill identification system from the National Institutes of Health.

-- Online Flu Trackers: Knowing where flu is and how to avoid it can boost your chances of making it through the season unscathed.  Flu trackers like Google Flu Trends can help.  Research shows the search engine data lines up well with national statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

-- Veggie Steamer: Eating steamed veggies is a great way to boost your immune system and get your daily vitamins. Steaming veggies rather than frying them preserves their flu-fighting antioxidants, according to a 2008 report in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. Boiled veggies are healthy, too. So fill up on soup loaded with vitamin-rich carrots, sweet potato, spinach, and broccoli.

-- Soup Maker: Besides getting lots of rest, filling up on fluids is the best advice for soothing flu symptoms.  Making your own soup is a great way to get fluids and vitamins at the same time, with some decongesting spices and steam to boot.  Adding ginger and garlic to soup can help boost the taste and get things flowing inside your sinuses. Hot peppers are good too -- if you can take the heat.

-- Juicer: Make the most of your fluids by packing them full of immunity-boosting vitamins and antioxidants.  Try mixing oranges with green tea, ginger and a bit of honey for a frothy, flu-fighting brew.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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