1. The flu vaccine can cause the flu from The 15 Most Common Myths about the Cold and Flu

The 15 Most Common Myths about the Cold and Flu

1. The flu vaccine can cause the flu

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Let’s just get the big one out of the way first. This myth has been around for ages. 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. Because it takes a few weeks for the vaccine to start protecting your body, people who get sick in those few weeks think 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.

2. You can’t spread the illness before you get any symptoms

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This is another big myth. Just because you don’t have symptoms right away doesn’t mean that the virus is not in you. That’s why it’s important to know that you can pass it to someone before you feel sick. So practice good hygiene. It can take up to a week for you to start feeling bad and you are most contagious during the first 2-3 days. Between 20 and 30 percent of people with the flu virus don’t experience symptoms.

3. Going outside with wet hair when it’s cold can give you the flu

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This has nothing to do with your chances of catching the disease. A lot of studies show no correlation whatsoever between the two. 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, might affect how well it is able to survive and spread.

4. You can catch a cold from getting cold

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Perhaps because of its common name many people still believe that not getting dressed warm enough when they go outside increases their chances of catching a cold. The explanation here as the same as in the previous one: Only a cold virus causes a cold. People tend to stay inside when it’s cold out and they are usually not alone. Therefore, 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.

5. The seasonal flu is not more serious that a cold

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Don’t get these two similar but also very different viral infections wrong. 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. Staying in bed for days because your muscles hurt, you are running a high fever, and have a headache is common. Some people even need to be hospitalized. Between 3,000 and 49,000 people in the U.S. alone have died from complications caused by the flu, according to the CDC.

6. You can only get the flu if you’re near someone sick

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Being close to a person who has the flu or the cold certainly poses a high risk for you to catch the virus. However, you can also contract it by touching the same surface the sick person has been in contact with. When they sneeze or cough droplets of saliva with the virus, which can travel up to six feet, are flying around in the air, and 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.

7. Extra clothes or covering yourself with blankets "sweat out" the cold

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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 the cold. So if you really don’t like sweating and dread this “treatment,” feel free to skip it.

8. Don’t consume dairy products when have a cold

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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. Drinking milk, however, can make it a bit thicker and as a result can be irritating. Some doctors actually recommend eating dairy products, including ice cream, because they are comforting on sore throats.

9. Not catching the flu in the fall means I’m safe in the winter

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Just like it’s never too late to follow your dreams, it’s never too late to catch a cold or the flu. The viruses that cause them are around all year long and being exposed to them has nothing to do with the weather or the cold temperatures outside. It only has to do with practicing good hygiene and getting a flu shot.

10. Only anti-bacterial soap can stop the flu

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Washing your hands with warm water and soap is the best way to prevent catching a cold but it doesn’t matter what kind of soap you use, according to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, be mindful of how often you use the same soap. Residue-producing antibacterial soap may kill normal healthy bacteria on the skin which opens the door for resistant bacteria. They make antibiotics less effective.

11. Antibiotics help the flu

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The flu is an infection caused by a virus. Antibiotics treat infections caused by bacteria. Antiviral medication helps against the cold and flu. They don’t cure the illness but make you feel a little better and less contagious.

12. You can’t do anything about how long you’re sick

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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.

13. The cold could turn into the flu

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The cold is a milder respiratory illness. It can’t turn into a flue 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. Cold usually don’t result in serious complications while the flu can lead to pneumonia or bacterial infections.

14. Once you got the flu, you'd be immune for life

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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. The protection your body develops against one strain doesn’t always help if you catch another. Also, this natural immunity declines with time.

 

15. Medication against the flu is good against the cold too

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Different viruses mean different drugs. Antiviral meds for the flu won’t help ease your cold symptoms. So don’t share medication with others because you don’t know what they really have.