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Myths about Cold and Flu

There are loads of myths and misinformation regarding common cold and flu. You cannot solely rely on the advice provided by your friends and family members as it doesn’t work out the way you expect in most of the cases. Here are a few myths to help you deal with cold and flu.

If you go out in the cold with wet hair or without warm clothes, you will catch cold

Catching cold or getting flu has hardly anything to do with going out with wet hair, without warm clothes or hats, sitting near a drafty window etc. in the winter season. It is true that most people catch cold or flu in the colder seasons, but the reason behind it is completely different. Cold and flu are caused by viruses that find it easier to transmit from one person to the other because of the close contact while staying indoors. During cold season, we cluster indoors and we breathe the same air that an infected person might cough or sneeze in. We might also come in contact with the virus when we touch the TV remote, keyboard, phone, pen, doorknob, etc. that an infected person might have touched or used. But again, coming in contact with the virus does not necessarily cause the flu. It depends on whether your immune system is weak enough to allow the virus to hold on to your body.

You can get flu from flu shots

This is completely untrue and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been insisting and stressing against the same, but the myth refuses to fade or die. The vaccines are made from parts of deactivated flu virus and, therefore, can’t make you sick. A flu shot needs around 7-14 days to give you protection from the flu. If you get the flu prior to this period, you were anyway going to fall sick and the vaccine is not responsible for your flu. There is, though, one kind of vaccine that is directly sprayed into the nose of a person. This vaccine is made of a whole but tamed virus and can thus give you some symptoms similar to having cold and flu, like aches, runny nose, sore throat, or may be a low fever for around a day. But, even these vaccines do not cause cold or flu.

Feed a cold, starve a fever and vice versa

Starving is not a very good idea, especially when you are sick. Moreover, scientists have not found any real benefit in starving your body during cold or flu. In fact, you need proper nutrition so that your body can fight the illness. You may have a reduced appetite during cold or flu, and skipping a meal or so is acceptable too. But, you should not take this too far so that your body becomes weak and unable to fight the illness. Also, you must take plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated while suffering from either of the diseases.

Antibiotics help to cure flu and may be necessary if fever with flu lasts for more than 2 days

Flu is a viral infection caused by viruses whereas antibiotics are meant to fight bacteria. Hence, antibiotics are ineffective in curing flu. In fact, taking antibiotic when it is not required can actually cause harm to your health causing yeast infections, stomach problems, or drug-resistant bacterial infections. The only time you should take antibiotics while having a flu is when you develop some bacterial infection along with flu. Cold and flu cure by themselves and there is no need to complicate the problem by taking antibiotics.

If you have got flu once, you are not going to get it again in the same flu season

It’s a popular belief that if you have got flu once, you will not have it again during the same flu season and, therefore, you do not need to take the vaccination. But, there is no truth in this myth. There are usually two types of viruses circulating during any flu season. It might be that you had a flu due to one type of virus and get a flu again later, during the same season, due to another type of virus. Hence, it is important to take vaccination even if you have suffered from flu once already.

You don’t need to take flu vaccinations every year

This myth may be true for many other types of vaccinations, but when it comes to vaccination for flue, it is not true. Flu viruses mutate every year, which means that there are significant changes in the viruses every year. Therefore, the vaccinations too go through a lot of changes and modifications every year so that they can protect you. Hence, it is absolutely necessary to take flu vaccination every single year to make yourself immune to flu viruses.

A flu vaccination guarantees that you will not get flu

Vaccines try to keep flu away from you by giving you protection against a number of viruses, but not from all flu causing viruses. How well a flu vaccine protects you from flu depends on how well the virus chosen for the vaccine matches with the viruses circulating in your area. Apart from that, there are many other factors that can encourage a flu attack which are beyond the control of vaccines. Such factors include a weak immune system, chronic illnesses, age, etc. Also, certain precautions, such as frequent washing of hands, avoiding contact with flu infected people, taking anti-viral medication when vaccination has not been taken, etc. can help keep flu away from you, whereas ignoring the same factors can increase the risk of getting flu.

Young or healthy people don’t need flu shots

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, any person older than six months should be vaccinated. A young and apparently healthy looking person might have some underlying disease or chronic problem. Therefore, it is important that even young and healthy people take the vaccination. This would also prevent a healthy person from spreading the virus that may not have affected them but might cause flu to some more susceptible person.

Seasonal flu is harmless

Often flu is considered as a bad cold and thought to be harmless. Whereas, research shows that each year around 3,000-49,000 people die and 200,000 are hospitalized for flu in the US alone. Young adults, children and elderly people are more prone to fall prey to seasonal flu and are the ones who are mostly harmed by the disease.

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