16 Cold and Flu Myths You Need to Stop Believing from 16 Cold and Flu Myths You Need to Stop Believing
16 Cold and Flu Myths You Need to Stop Believing
16 Cold and Flu Myths You Need to Stop Believing
It’s easy to be misinformed about the causes of the influenza – the flu as it’s better known – and the cold (or the difference between them) with so many “wisdom gems” and friends’ advice out there. There is a good chance some of the information you have may be wrong. Avoiding the common or seasonal viral infections starts with setting the record about the facts and myths related to the cold or flu straight.
You can’t pass it on unless you have a fever
Just because you don’t have symptoms right away doesn’t mean that the virus is not in you. Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning the day before their signs develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick, according to the CDC. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. Between 20 and 30 percent of people with the flu virus don’t experience signs. Alarmingly, a study in England showed that 77 percent of flu infections have no symptoms.
Cold weather can make you sick
Only a cold virus causes a cold, according to Harvard Medical School. People tend to stay inside when it’s cold out and they are usually not alone. Being in contact with more people – and possibly touching the doorknob unaware of the fact that someone had just sneezed and touched the same surface – is likely the reason why you’re sick, not leaving the hat at home.
Vaccination is the only way to protect yourself
Doctors advise to get at least eight hours of sleep, exercise regularly, drink plenty of fluids, maintain a healthy diet, and wash your hands appropriately. This is one of the most important ways to prevent the common cold or the flu virus, Harvard-trained, DC-area pain specialist, Dr. Aneesh Singla, says. You become ill when someone coughs or sneezes and you touch the surface on which the germs landed.
Going outside with wet hair is a problem
This has nothing to do with your chances of catching the disease. A lot of studies show no correlation whatsoever between the two, according to the University of Utah Health Sciences. The misconception probably comes from the fact that the flu usually circulates in the winter and fall when temperatures are lower. The only way you can get it is by being exposed to the virus. Humidity, however, may affect how well it is able to survive and spread.
You can “sweat it out”
It is fairly common knowledge that there is no cure for the common cold. Putting on more clothes and sleeping with three extra comforters will surely make you sweat, but not more than that. You’ll still have the virus. It takes several days and possibly weeks for your body to get rid of it. So if you really don’t like sweating and dread this “treatment,” feel free to skip it. In most cases it is best to just let the cold run its course, according to Science-Based Medicine.
You can't have milk
Milk can make you feel uncomfortable but it’s not causing your body produce more phlegm, which is the thick viscous substance secreted by the mucous when someone is suffering from a cold. Some doctors actually recommend eating dairy products, including ice cream, because they are comforting on sore throats, and yogurt, because it is loaded with probiotics which your body needs to reduce its inflammatory response. Research has found that probiotic supplementation can reduce the severity and duration (by at least two days) of colds and upper-respiratory infections.
You can’t get the flu unless you’re close to someone sick
Being near a person who has the flu or the cold certainly poses a high risk for you, but you can also contract it by touching the same surface the sick person has been in contact with. When they cough they release droplets of saliva with the virus, which can travel up to six feet in the air, research has shown, possibly orbiting you. So if you touch anything where these droplets have landed and then touch your nose, eyes or mouth, you’re probably infected. So wash your hands frequently.
The flu is not more serious than the cold
They are similar but also very different viral infections. Both affect your respiratory tract but their symptoms and, more importantly, severity, are different. The flu is much worse and it can lead to serious health problems such as pneumonia. You’d also feel a lot worse for longer if you had the seasonal flu. Older people and kids are more vulnerable. Between 3,000 and 49,000 people in the U.S. alone have died in 30 years from complications caused by the flu, according to the CDC.
You have no control over how long you’re sick
Just because there is no definitive cure for the cold, doesn’t mean your body has to take forever to get rid of the virus and recover. If you recognize that you have the flu early enough, you can take antiviral medicine and it can reduce the number of days you’re sick and prevent pneumonia. The key is to act fast – drink plenty of fluids, have chicken soup, and get plenty of rest. Also, study shows that vitamin D is a highly effective way to avoid influenza.
It’s too late if you don’t get vaccinated early
“Better later than sorry” and “it’s never too late.” Clichés are well-known for a reason. As long as you are not infected you can get the flu shot even if that’s in January or February, which is when the flu season usually peaks, according to the CDC. If flu viruses are still circulating, which can be until May, vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season.
Regular workouts keep the immune system up to par. When it’s in top shape, few bacteria can get in its way. Thirty minutes of exercise a day is not hard to achieve, so make sure you commit to the task. When you move your body your circulation increases. Better blood flow strengthens the immune system, which makes it better able to fight infections and viruses, including the common cold and flu. Study has shown that exercise and meditation can actually reduce acute respiratory infections.
The cold can turn into the flu
The cold is a milder respiratory illness. It can’t turn into a flu because the two are caused by different viruses. The two infections have similar indications and people can several,???none of more severe symptoms than others. That’s why distinguishing a cold from flu can be hard. A cold usually doesn’t result in serious complications while the flu can lead to pneumonia or bacterial infections, as data have shown.
You’re immune for life after you get over the flu
This is a dangerous myth. Viruses change every year and sometimes even in the middle of the flu season. That’s why the vaccine is different every year and it is made to match the strains that are prevalent at the time, according to the Immune Deficiency Foundation. The protection your body develops against one strain doesn’t always help if you catch another. Also, this natural immunity declines with time.
The cold and flu can be treated with the same meds
The flu is an infection caused by a virus. Antibiotics treat infections caused by bacteria. Different viruses mean different drugs. Antiviral meds for the flu won’t help ease your cold symptoms, the CDC says. So don’t share medication with others because you don’t know what they really have. Antibiotics do not shorten the duration of the illness and do not prevent complications or the development of pneumonia, according to WHO.
Covering your mouth will prevent spreading the cold
You should cover your mouth when you cough because this is the polite thing to do. Don’t count on it to prevent you from infecting other people. Cold viruses exist in large quantities in the nasal fluid, according to the CDC. The germs that are now on your hands will land on whatever you touch, so even a simple handshake will transfer them to a healthy person, possibly making him or her sick. Cough into your inner elbow if you don’t have a tissue.
The flu vaccine can cause the infection
Flu shots are made with dead viruses or without any viruses at all. So you’ can’t catch the flu from a flu shot because the inactivated virus in the shot can’t transmit the disease. It takes a few weeks for the vaccine to start protecting your body and people may get sick in the meantime, causing confusion that the shot caused the illness. It is true, however, that the flu shot may cause flu-like – but mild – symptoms such as feeling tired and muscle ache.