Colds and flu have been around for centuries. It’s only natural that many myths have sprung up over the years, so it’s time to clarify a few of the more common myths.
Myth: The flu is the same as a bad cold.
Fact: A serious case of flu is much worse. Symptoms may hit suddenly and be quite severe. A sore throat, a cough, aching muscles, headaches and fevers/chills are often times symptoms that persist. Bed rest is required, and in severe cases, hospitalization may be needed if symptoms don’t disappear on their own.
Myth: People can contract the flu from a flu vaccine.
Fact: The vaccine has inactive flu viruses, so it’s impossible to cause the flu. A person’s arm may feel sore where the injection has gone in, and symptoms may include a headache and/or aching muscles for a day or two, but it’s rare for anything more serious to occur.
Myth: One flu shot provides protection forever.
Fact: Flu viruses change each year, so the vaccine needs to match the particular flu strain that has been around in that particular year. A vaccine only provides protection for one flu season.
Myth: Starve a fever and feed a cold (or the other way around).
Fact: Nobody knows the origin of this myth. However, it’s untrue. The important thing people should be doing is eating healthy foods to keep their immune system as strong as possible. Even more fluids are needed if somebody has a cold, as dehydration may become a symptom.
Myth: Antibiotics can be used to treat a cold or the flu.
Fact: Viruses cause colds and flu, while antibiotics are only good for bacterial infections. A doctor may prescribe antiviral medication, but he or she only does that to make a patient less infectious to other people and to decrease the time they feel sick.
Myth: Taking vitamin C can protect people from the flu and colds.
Fact: There’s no scientific evidence to support this widely-believed myth. However, there’s nothing wrong with getting plenty of vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals as part of a healthy diet.
Myth: If a person has already had the flu in a specific season, they don’t need the vaccination.
Fact: This is wrong. There are multiple flu strains every year, so having one bout only offers protection against that strain, and not the others. Also, what may have been considered the flu could have merely been a cold.
Myth: A cold isn’t contagious.
Fact: Regardless of whether the cold is bacterial or viral, a person is contagious, so at least some precautions should be taken to avoid spreading the germs. They include: thoroughly washing hands, blocking sneezes, regularly cleaning a workspace (including computer keyboard) with antibacterial wipes, using a single cup, plate and cutlery so others won’t get the germs. It’s also wise to stay home if possible, thus keeping the germs isolated.
Myth: Most colds happen during winter.
Fact: They’re most common in spring, because the virus is far more active, having been mainly dormant in winter.
This is certainly not the entire list of cold and flu myths. Nevertheless, if people understand the facts, they’ll have a better chance of coping when a cold or the flu does hit them.