5 Cold & Flu Myths -- Busted!

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No way around it now: The cold and flu season is indeed upon us, and that sucks ... a lot. But hey, at least we all know what we have to do to keep from getting sick -- and how to get well if we do fall under the weather, right?? Or ... wrong? Turns out lots of the cold and flu remedies we all rely on every winter might be doing more harm than good -- or, at the very least, not enough good. Perfect example: Most of us pop ibuprofen to tame everything from sinus headaches to aches and pains -- we even give the over-the-counter med to our kids. But according to a recent study, 50 to 70 percent of people with respiratory tract infections (including colds, sore throats and chest and ear infections) who took ibuprofen ended up back at the doctor within a month, feeling even worse.

Why? Researchers think it may have something to do with the fact that ibuprofen reduces inflammation and "an inflammatory response is part of the body's immune response to the infection." Sheesh, who saw that one coming?? 

And that's not the only go-to method of getting better that might not be working as well as you think. Here are 5 more cold & flu myths, busted:

1. Echincacea helps to shorten the duration of a cold. 

Sure, some people swear by the stuff -- but the evidence to support its efficacy is mainly anecdotal. 

2. Not going outside in the cold with a wet head will prevent you from getting a cold. 

Nope, not true -- you can't actually "catch a chill," according to experts. There are, however, more viruses circulating during the winter months -- so this belief is based on coincidence rather than hard evidence.

3. Zinc boosts your immune system. 

As with echinacea, there's no scientific proof to back this theory up (though it probably can't hurt).

4. It's possible to "sweat out" a cold or flu.

Again, this falls into the category of folklore. If, however, piling on blankets or drinking hot tea helps you feel better, go for it!

5. Feed a cold/starve a fever (or starve a cold, feed a fever).

Yet another old wives' tale, neither stuffing your face or dieting will make you better. You SHOULD, however, drink more fluids when sick.

I don't know about you, but I still don't like going out with a wet head during the winter -- think I'll stick with that particular old wives' tale!

Were you surprised to learn about any of these cold & flu myths?

5 facts about the cold and flu


Image via superhua/Flickr

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Maias... MaiasMommy619

The only thing that can be done for a flu or a cold is to rest and drink your weight in water and fluids. Stay away from caffine to keep hydrated, and let it run its course. Give it a good 2 weeks to feel better! Hydration in the key!

Celeste Cline

A shot of whiskey in a cup of tea helps.  If it doesn't make you feel better, at least you won't care. :)

nonmember avatar Teri

Getting "chilled" can weaken your immune system leaving you more susceptible to the viruses around you than you otherwise would have been if your body wasn't using a lot of its energy to just keep your temperature up. So it is not just a correlation it can be causation.

Misty Fitzgerald Gray

Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I do a 4 day combination of Zinc and Echincacea. I can't remember the last time I had a full blown cold. It really does work.

jessi... jessicasmom1

hahah I agree with these

mamac... mamacifuni

wow didn't realize people still believed some of these myths.  my absolute favorite saying about a cold is this: if you take all the medicinces, the cold will last a week; if you do nothing, the cold will last 7 days.  At first there seems to be a difference but then you realize that 7 days is a week,

Kimberley King

These things are actually true and do work so whoever wrote this article is a moron or works for the drug industry!

LilTy... LilTymomma

"Myth" number 2 is b/c of th temperture change.

"Myth" number 4 is actually sweat from exercising or steam room. Not sweating b/c you're too bundled! Most likely you'll have a fever anyway. 

I have not heard of the other ones. But these two "myths" are just misunderstood. IMO

frogg... froggyfreak330

Zinc is an essential vitamin for keeping your immune system healthy. It really does help to shorten a cold. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-982-ZINC.aspx?activeIngredientId=982&activeIngredientName=ZINC Please, stir bloggers, do your research. It isnt that hard to type "zinc + immune system" into google and look at the plethura of information available. I take extra vitamin C and zinc when I feel a cold coming on, and I cant even remember the last time I had a full blown cold. Just to clarify though, you shouldnt take extra vitamin C if you are pregnant because it can cause a miscarriage.

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