Cold and Flu Myths

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Cold and Flu Myths

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COMMON MYTHS
Chances are good, very good, that you will catch a cold or get the flu this winter. And that flu might arrive sooner than you expect. The CDC reports that the flu season is off to an early and possibly nasty start. (Get vaccinated, asap!)

Chances are also good that you won’t be sure how to cope with your affliction once it hits. Old wives’ tales abound. (Eating chicken soup and keeping warm?) And some modern cures are fads in themselves. Echinacea, anyone? Here, we debunk some common myths about how to prevent, treat, and cope with cold and flu.

 

 

GOING OUTSIDE WITH WET HAIR CAUSES COLDS
“Don’t go out with wet hair—you’ll catch your death of cold!” This well-worn admonition may seem logical, but cold air does not cause colds; viruses do—specifically the rhinovirus, says Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s vaccine research group in Rochester, Minn. The best way to avoid catching a cold is keep your immune system strong, wash your hands frequently and keep your fingers away from your face. One study found people touch their eyes, nose or lips 16 times an hour, which gives viruses an easy way to enter the body.

 

 

 

VITAMIN C REDUCES COLD SYMPTOMS
My mother swore by the curative effects of ascorbic acid and would take mega doses of it the minute she felt a cold coming on. But dozens of studies have looked at vitamin C and found that it has little or no effect on the common cold. There’s some evidence that people who take vitamin C year-round, suffer colds for fewer days than those who do not, but the vitamin has no effect on the severity of their symptoms. “If there is a benefit, it’s very small,” says Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

 

 

 

ECHINACEA IS A POTENT COLD BUSTER
Study results are mixed. Some research shows that the herb may shorten the duration and severity of a cold, but only slightly. Other studies show no benefit at all. One large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2005 found that Echinacea had exactly zero effect on the rhinovirus that causes the common cold. Since then “no one has come in with any reliable new data, to show it has any effect,” says Schaffner. “It’s a dead letter.” Probably better to spend your money on something that’s been proven to help, like chicken soup.

 

 

AIRBORNE WILL DO THE TRICK
Lots of people love this product, but there is no compelling research to back up the claim that it boosts immunity. Here’s what does boost immunity: getting lots of rest, staying hydrated, and exercising regularly. “They sound so mundane, but sometimes the basic things are the most important,” says Schaffner.

 

 

 

 

 

DON’T EXERCISE WHEN YOU’RE SICK
Do a neck check. If your symptoms are above your collar line, such as sniffles or a mild sore throat, it’s OK to exercise moderately. In fact, a bit of movement may help lessen your symptoms. But, if you have a hacking cough or congested lungs, don’t work out. Rest instead, drink plenty of fluids and lay low.

 

 

 

 

 

THE FLU SHOT IS THE BEST WAY TO AVOID INFLUENZA
This is mostly true. But, there are now four different vaccine formulations, including flu mist and a high-dose flu shot.

To get the maximum benefit from the flu vaccine, choose the one that’s right for you. For instance, the flu mist appears to be more effective than the flu shot for children between the ages of 2 and 9, explains Poland. Talk to your doctor about which formulation is best or click here to learn about vaccine options and to find a vaccination center near you.

 

 

 

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By | 2017-09-14T13:11:00+00:00 September 14th, 2017|Parenting, Wellness|