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Here are some common and sometimes harmful myths about the common cold and the flu.

The flu is just a stronger cold

It’s understandable how these two conditions may be confused, as both colds and the flu cause symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat, fever, sneezing, and coughing. However, the two conditions are caused by two distinct strains of viruses – the rhinovirus causes a cold, whereas the influenza virus produces the flu. Of the two conditions, the flu is a lot more dangerous, and sometimes even life-threatening. In the United States alone, 36 thousand people die as a result of the flu each year, and around 200 thousand are hospitalized. Risks are especially high for immunocompromised individuals, children, seniors and persons with some preexisting conditions.

It cannot be the flu if you don’t have digestive issues

The presence or lack of digestive symptoms is not a way to distinguish between a cold and the flu. As a matter of fact, the influenza virus rarely ever causes nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

The confusion likely stems from a group of viruses not related to influenza that cause a condition commonly referred to as ‘the stomach flu’. But don’t be confused, digestive issues are a poor identifier of the flu. Also, digestive symptoms alone are more likely than not a different germ altogether and should not be confused with influenza.

Drinking milk will worsen your cold

Despite popular belief, drinking milk while you’re suffering from a cold or the flu will not worsen your symptoms. What it will do is make your phlegm slightly thicker, which can cause some discomfort, but it is a myth that milk makes you produce more phlegm. Overall, it’s completely safe to drink milk and reap all of its nutritional and hydrating properties even if you’re suffering from a cold or the flu.

If you get your flu shot too early, it won’t last

of the common concerns with the vaccination is that people are afraid to get the shot too early, as they think it won’t last throughout the flu season. If that is one of your concerns, rest assured that the vaccination will protect you from the virus for much longer than the flu season. Even if you get vaccinated in late August, you’ll be protected for at least 6 months, or at least until the end of February.

Not dressing warm or going out with wet hair is guaranteed to cause a cold

Viral infections don’t magically appear when you feel cold, you have to be exposed to the virus in order to get infected, so being cold won’t cause a cold or the flu. What is true, however, is that sudden jumps in temperatures can make your immune system more susceptible to infections, so you probably should try to maintain a steady temperature and adjust your clothing accordingly anyway.

You can prevent colds and the flu by washing your hands more often

There is no one universal habit that will help you prevent colds and the flu, and washing your hands is no exception. If you happen to spend time with people who have the flu, washing your hands often and cleaning the shared surfaces are among the best ways of minimizing your risks. Influenza virus can survive on a surface for up to 8 hours. You should also keep a distance of at least 6 feet (1.8 m) from a person with the flu or cold, as when they sneeze, the little droplets of saliva contaminated with viruses can travel through the air and land on you, significantly increasing your risk of contracting the disease.

‘Feed a cold, starve a fever’

This popular saying has no medical truth behind it, so don’t starve and eat a healthy diet when you’re sick, and while you’re at it, also stay hydrated and drink your way to health and a swift recovery.

You can’t catch the flu in summer

There is no reason why you couldn’t catch the flu in summer if you happen to encounter it. But the thing is, you’re a lot more likely to be bombarded by the virus during the cold months, because in winter, people tend to congregate in closed, poorly ventilated spaces more in the cold months, so you’re more likely to meet someone with the flu during the fall and winter. Apart from that, the influenza virus itself is a bit more resilient in cold weather than it is in warm weather, as exposure to warm humid temperatures destroys the protective coating of the virus more quickly, cutting down the time it can survive on surfaces dramatically.

Chicken soup will make you recover from the cold and flu faster

In terms of its ability to speed up your recovery, chicken soup is comparable to any other hot drinks, such as tea or warm cocoa. All these drinks can do is soothe your sore throat and hydrate your body. Both of these reasons make chicken soup and any other hot drink an excellent choice for people experiencing cold and flu symptoms, but don’t expect a miracle.

If your symptoms persist for more than a few days or you have a high fever, you should take antibiotics

If you feel like your flu or cold symptoms persist for more than a week or you’re experiencing a high fever that isn’t responsive to OTC drugs, a good idea is to visit or call a doctor, as you may be experiencing some complications. What you shouldn’t do is take antibiotics right away, as these are useless for viral infections like the flu or colds. Antibiotics can only kill bacteria. Taking antibiotics unnecessarily can be dangerous, as it promotes antibiotic resistance and can cause side effects like diarrhea, digestive issues, nausea, and fungal infections.

Sweating out a fever will help you recover faster

The theory is that raising your body’s temperature will help you kill the viruses infecting your body, so you should exercise, or breathe in warm steam or go to the sauna to raise your body’s temperature. Unfortunately, there is no scientific proof of that theory, and sweating profusely may actually cause dehydration, so you may end up slowing down your recovery by engaging in any of these practices.

You won’t spread the flu if you’re not feeling ill

This might come as a surprise, but even healthy-looking people can be carrying the influenza virus or the rhinovirus. In fact, 20-30% of people with the influenza virus exhibit no symptoms, but you can still get the virus from them and become sick. Apart from that, some people infected with the influenza virus can exhibit no symptoms during the first day, but they will spread the disease nevertheless.

Source: Internet & Others

The views expressed in this article should not be considered as a substitute for a physician’s advice. Always make sure to seek a doctor or a professional’s advice before proceeding with the home treatment plan.

Author: TxNaturalPediatrics

By training, I am a American Board Certified Pediatrician. But in my younger years I grew up with natural alternatives. As a mom I have tried to incorporate both for my kids and it has worked wonders. And finally, as I am studying natural & alternative medicines, I realize the beauty and wisdom of living closer to earth. Hence in my practice I integrate both...for acute ailments I follow American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation but for simple and/or chronic conditions I prefer natural alternatives. In western training we were raised to think that "health is the absence of symptoms and problems". But eastern sensibilities has educated me that "Health is state that allows one to use the full capabilities of their body, mind and intellect. Therefore, healthy living is a balanced state of well being: physically, mentally, socially and spiritually." This implies that healing is not a "one-pill-fits-all", but a personalized experience.

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