Debunking 12 Common Myths About the Cold and Flu Viruses

Unfortunately many people will be exposed to viruses throughout life, especially during peak season. Two of the most common ones to catch are the cold and the flu. Both can range in severity and duration, with a cold being the more common virus. People often confuse the two viruses and there are many myths floating around that simply aren’t true. Here’s a look at 12 myths about the cold and flu.

Myth #1 The Cold and Flu Are the Same Thing

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People often lump cold and flu together, using the terms interchangeably. The belief that they are the same is false. While both are classified as respiratory illnesses, the virus that causes each one is different. A cold can be caused by several different types of viruses, many of which are seasonal. Meanwhile, the flu is caused by influenza.

Myth #2 Don’t Worry About Eating When You Have a Fever

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Perhaps you’ve heard the old saying “feed a cold, starve a fever”, and tend to use that as medical advice. The fact is that you don’t have to starve either. Just because you have a fever doesn’t mean your appetite disappears. Furthermore, to fight the virus your body needs to be healthy and have energy, which nutritious food will provide. Although many people have a reduced appetite while struggling with the cold or flu, it’s important to eat small amounts throughout the day to keep the body nourished. 

Myth #3 Boosting Vitamin C Intake Will Help You Recover Fast from a Cold

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When you’re sick with a cold, it’s natural to try remedies that may speed up the recovery. People often boost their vitamin C intake, believing it will help fight germs. While it’s true that Vitamin C can help, research shows that the effects will be minimal. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s also not a miracle cure.

Myth #4 You Can’t Have a Cold and Flu at the Same Time

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Having one is frustrating enough, so it’s great to assume you won’t have both at the same time. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Because a cold and flu are caused by two different viruses, there is a slim chance you can have both at once. The good news is that it’s not very common.

Myth #5 Chicken Soup Is the Best “Medicine”

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There is something wonderfully comforting about a pot of homemade chicken soup. It warms you up on a cold day, it tastes delicious, and there are definite health benefits. However, calling it a “cure” is taking it a bit too far. Chicken soup can do a great job keeping you hydrated, especially if you don’t have much of an appetite. But it won’t get rid of a cold any faster. 

Myth #6 You Can Catch a Cold If You Go Outside with Wet Hair in the Cold

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Being exposed to cold temperatures with wet hair will make you more susceptible to catching a cold is another old belief or an “old wives tale.” No facts support this, as a cold can only be caught by exposure to the virus. However, viruses are more common during the colder months, so catching a cold “outside with wet hair” may just be coincidental since it is peak virus season.

Myth #7 The Flu Vaccine Will Protect You from Getting a Cold

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The flu vaccine is usually available in the fall season. While it can help prevent the flu or, at the very least, help you fight it faster should you catch it, the vaccine does not offer protection against a cold. No vaccine can protect you from catching a viral cold.

Myth #8 Getting the Flu Vaccine Gives You the Virus

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Many people falsely believe that a live flu virus is in the vaccine and sent into their bodies once they receive the shot. While it’s normal to experience a little pain, tenderness, and swelling where the vaccine was given, that isn’t the flu. One side effect of the vaccine is a low fever, but it isn’t the flu. Even the nasal flu vaccine, a particular type of live vaccine, doesn’t give you the flu.

Myth #9 Healthy People Don’t Need to Get the Flu Vaccine

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If you’ve always skipped the flu vaccine because you are generally healthy, you should rethink this. Being healthy doesn’t protect you from the flu. People tend to think of the flu as a minor inconvenience. However, it can become severe, resulting in hospitalization and even be fatal. The elderly and young children are typically at the highest risk regarding the severity of the flu. For this reason, the flu shot is even more critical for those age groups. The good news about the flu shot is that it lasts longer than the traditional flu season, so you’ll receive good coverage. 

Myth #10 Using Cold and Cough Medicine Will Speed Up Recovery from Your Cold

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The cough and cold medicine market is massive, with consumers regularly stocking up on these items, hoping to feel better. Although the medications can help make you more comfortable and tolerate the virus, they aren’t a cure. The virus will have to run its course, so if the medications that offer temporary relief aren’t working, then it’s better to save your money.

Myth #11 Consuming Dairy While You Have a Cold Will Worsen Symptoms

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If you avoid dairy products when you have a cold, thinking it will worsen your symptoms, there is no need to worry. When you have a cold, the amount of mucus you have increases, which is needed to help clear the virus from your body. Dairy is often blamed for the thickened mucus in the throat and mouth, which is a natural defense against the virus.

Myth #12 You Can Get a Prescription to Cure a Cold

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Making an appointment with your doctor, or visiting a clinic to get a prescription for a cold will be a waste of time. There are no antibiotics available that will cure your cold. Colds are viruses and antibiotics are designed to destroy bacteria, not a viral infection. Unfortunately the best “medicine” is time, rest, and a healthy balanced diet.

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Dolce Far Niente: 12 Ways to Adopt the Italian Lifestyle and the Art of Doing Nothing

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