7 Cold and Flu Myths
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7 Cold and Flu Myths

Get the facts on the cold and flu and keep your family healthy this season.

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By Ana Lopez

The leaves are turning, there’s a chill in the air and the days are getting shorter. Fall is here and so are viruses—lots of them! But there’s no need to panic; half the things you’ve heard about cold and flu viruses aren’t even true. Learn the facts about the common cold and flu, and keep yourself and your family healthy this season.

Myth: The flu isn’t that serious

2 / 8 Myth: The flu isn’t that serious

The flu is no joke. Some people develop symptoms that are so severe they end up in the hospital. In fact, each year in the US, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized due to flu-related complications, and 36,000 people die.

Children under age 5—especially those under age 2—and adults over age 65 are more susceptible to serious illness from the flu. Pregnant women and people with chronic health problems such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes are also at increased risk. 

Myth: You can get the flu from the flu vaccine

3 / 8 Myth: You can get the flu from the flu vaccine

Sometimes people come down with the flu soon after they’ve received a flu vaccine. So what gives? For starters, flu vaccines can take up to two weeks to work. If someone becomes ill with the flu, it’s most likely because they were exposed to the virus either before or within two weeks of getting the shot.

Also, the flu vaccine doesn’t protect against all flu viruses. It only works against the strains scientists estimate to be the most common in a given year. So, you can still get sick from another type of virus. Still, the best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated. 

Myth: You’ll catch a cold from stepping outside with wet hair

4 / 8 Myth: You’ll catch a cold from stepping outside with wet hair

Despite what your mother told you, being cold or wet has little to do with whether you develop a cold or the flu. The only way to catch them is to be exposed to a virus.

It’s true that you are more likely to get sick when the weather is cold, but it’s because viruses thrive in cold air. Dry air also sucks moisture out of the nose, making it hospitable for intruding viruses.

Myth: Feed a cold, starve a fever

5 / 8 Myth: Feed a cold, starve a fever

Fever or no fever, when you’re sick, it's important to maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids. Think water, juice and hot tea. Even if you’re not feeling hungry, force yourself to eat. A big bowl of chicken noodle soup can relieve your sore throat and help keep you hydrated. 

Myth: Vitamin C can fend off a cold

6 / 8 Myth: Vitamin C can fend off a cold

While vitamin C is important for our bodies, research has yet to confirm its effectiveness in preventing colds. There is some evidence that when taken regularly in high doses—greater than 200 milligrams a day (mg/day)—vitamin C may shorten the duration of cold symptoms slightly. Two large oranges will give you about 200 mg of vitamin C. The current recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C is 75mg/day for women and 90mg/day for men.

Myth: Healthy people don’t need the flu vaccine

7 / 8 Myth: Healthy people don’t need the flu vaccine

Your best line of defense against the flu is to get the flu vaccine. The CDC recommends that most people 6 months and older get vaccinated every year. If you have severe allergies or a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, you may not be able to get the vaccine.

Check with your doctor to see if the flu vaccine is right for you. Flu viruses change each year, so don’t count on last year’s shot to protect you this year. 

Myth: A bad cold can turn into the flu

8 / 8 Myth: A bad cold can turn into the flu

Colds and flu are both viral infections, but they stem from different viruses. A cold will never turn into the flu. While a cold can make you feel as lousy as the flu, they have different symptoms

Cold symptoms primarily include a runny or stuffy nose and a sore throat. Flu symptoms tend to come on suddenly and are more severe. They may include fever, body aches, fatigue, sore throat, cough and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

The flu can also lead to pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses, and it typically lasts longer than your run-of-the-mill cold. 

Cold and Flu

Cold and Flu

Colds and flu are both viral infections, but have different symptoms. With a cold you will have symptoms such as a runny nose or a sore throat. Flu symptoms come on suddenly and may include fever, body aches or vomiting. While the...

re is no cure for either, there are treatments -- chicken soup, nasal sprays, rest -- which can help your feel better.
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