Separating the truth from the myths about cold and flu causes and remedies

Local News

Most of us were probably told by our grandmothers that going outside in the winter without a hat on will result in catching the flu or a cold, but is that really true?  The answer is no, we have to be exposed to a virus or bacteria to get sick. 

Many folks have probably heard that they’re more likely to get sick if they’ve traveled on an airplane.  This can be true.  An airplane puts us in an enclosed space with a lot of other people and it heightens our chances of coming in contact with an airborne virus. 

And, when it comes to treating a cold, is it a good idea to feed a cold and starve a fever?  Doctors say absolutely not.  

Dr. Dan Allan of Cleveland Clinic says, “I wouldn’t agree with that, for either… For either a cold or a fever, you should hydrate, you should eat as much as you can nutritionally; keep yourself tanked up. I wouldn’t starve anybody who is sick; you need your nutrition and your hydration.”

Another cold and flu season myth is that getting the flu shot will make you sick.  The flu shot may give you a temporary low-grade fever, but it cannot give you a cold or the flu.  

Home remedies that folks use to tame a cold include tea with honey and zinc lozenges.  While this approach will not provide a substantial benefit, they can help make symptoms a little easier to endure.  

Some people swear by putting vapor ointment on their feet at night to treat a cough, but there is no scientific research to prove that this does anything more than distract your mind from how you’re feeling. 

Many of us turn to chicken noodle soup for relief.  Doctors say that won’t prevent a cold, or even cure it, but it can help you feel better.  Allan says, “I think it does help relieve symptoms. Warm liquids tend to soothe your throat; it’s always good to have hydration. There’s obviously some nutrition in there, some salt, some things to help you feel a little bit better.”

Trying home remedies for colds is usually harmless, but you should avoid antibiotics.  Taking unnecessary antibiotics can create side effects and drug-resistant bacteria, which can ultimately do more harm than good. 

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