Now that fall is in full swing, cold and flu season is also upon us. And with this rise of sniffling and coughing come some truly inventive theories about getting sick and staying well, like sweating out a fever (which doesn’t help) or eating lots of chicken soup (which actually does help).
To put an end these common misconceptions, we’ve partnered with Mucinex, the brand that's all about putting an end to the misery of cold and flu symptoms. So next time someone tells you your wet hair made you sick, you can let them know otherwise.
1. Myth: You’ll get sick if you go out in the cold with wet hair or without a coat
Reality: Being cold (or cold and wet) has nothing to do with contracting the cold or flu virus. The reason we often associate the two is that the flu virus more commonly circulates during the fall and winter than during other times of year, Dr. Jon Abramson told ABC News. So more people are sick relative to warmer months, but the cold weather has nothing to do with it.
2. Myth: A cold can turn into the flu
Reality: While the cold and flu are both viral infections, they stem from different viruses. The cold is caused by one of the hundreds of subsets of the adenovirus or coronavirus. The flu, on the other hand, is caused by the respiratory influenza virus.
Cold and flu symptoms can be very similar, but one does not cause the other. The most common cold symptoms include runny nose, congestion, sore throat, sneezing and coughing. The most common flu symptoms include fever, achiness, exhaustion, sweating, sneezing and coughing.
3. Myth: Overloading on Vitamin C will stop a cold in its tracks
Reality: Sadly, eating lots of citrus is not a surefire way to prevent a cold (as much as we wish it were). Numerous studies have been conducted on the topic, but none have shown Vitamin C to be effective against fighting colds. That said, Vitamin C is a vital nutrient that our body needs, so make sure to get 60 to 95 milligrams a day, or one orange’s worth.
4. Myth: The effect of a flu shot will diminish if you get the vaccine too early
Reality: Yes, the effect of the flu vaccine does expire, but not within a couple months. Dr. William Schaffner told ABC News the flu vaccine will remain effective for up to one year.
5. Myth: You can catch the flu from the flu shot
Reality: Many people may shy away from getting vaccinated because of this myth. Yes, the vaccine is made with parts of the flu virus, but the key here is that those parts are inactive. You can’t get sick from an inactive strain of the flu virus.
Also, remember that the flu virus is contagious a full 24 hours before symptoms appear. So if you become sick after receiving the flu vaccine, you were probably already infected and bound to get sick regardless of the shot.
6. Myth: Consuming dairy when you’re sick will just make things worse
Reality: An abundance of phlegm (mucus) is one of the not-so-fun side effects of having a cold. While it’s true that dairy can make phlegm thicker and more irritating to the throat, dairy does not create more phlegm. So feel free to drink milk while you’re sick, but do so in moderation if you develop a sore throat.
7. Myth: Starve a fever, feed a cold
Reality: While it’s true that you won’t feel like eating when you’re feverish, you definitely don’t want to starve yourself for the sake of getting better. Denise Snyder, a nutrition scientist cited in a Duke Medicine article, says that loss of appetite is your body’s natural defense mechanism against fevers. It helps your immune system focus on fighting pathogens. Try to eat as you normally would, and focus on getting extra fluids.
As for colds, since they typically last longer than fevers, your body will need all the energy it can get to fight the virus. Keep your caloric intake constant so you have this energy, but don’t purposely eat more than normal just because you have a cold. When you do eat, make sure you’re eating healthy, nutrient-filled foods.