By Kai Colvin - Senior Medical Research Editor | December 10th, 2011
Beyond the everyday germs spread uncontrolled in the air today, there are a lot of misconceptions floating around that may leave you just as unprotected this cold and flu season.
Dr. Len Horovitz, respiratory specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City told ABC News, “Flu myth busting is the most difficult thing I do.”
So where do you turn to find the truth about avoiding and recovering from the common winter illness? Which classic cold and flu tips can we rely on and which ones are old wives tales?
“Most [tips] won't keep us safe from viruses, though a few do have merit” states Dr. Rachel Vreeman, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine.
According to ABC News, here are the top 5 cold and flu myths debunked, once and for all:
1. The flu vaccine can give you the flu: False!
Today’s injectable flu vaccine employs dead viruses, which won’t make you sick. The virus "is made up of only parts of the flu virus, so it cannot in any way give you the flu," says Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to ABC News. The flu vaccine is given in the hundreds of millions of doses every year and is "extraordinarily safe," Dr. Schaffner says.
2. The flu vaccine is dangerous for pregnant women: False!
While there are very rare risks and side affects than come with the flu shot, the benefits far outweigh the risks. "What is far more dangerous is taking the risk that you will get infected with flu if not vaccinated," says David Topham, co-director of the New York Influenza Center of Excellence. "Flu infection kills almost 40,000 people each year in the U.S. alone. Flu vaccine does not kill anyone."
3. Enduring winter weather with wet hair makes you sick: False!
"There are actually some studies on that, and it's not the case," stated Dr. Schaffner. "That doesn't mean we should go out and get cold and wet, because it's very uncomfortable, but we won't get sick from it." Getting cold and wet might now cause your cold or flu, but it can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. To actually become sick, you have to come in contact with the germs than cause cold and flu, bottom line.
4. If you haven’t gotten the flu vaccine by November, there’s no point getting vaccinated: False!
You should be able to get the flu vaccine as late as December or January. The flu often doesn’t hit its peak until February or sometimes as late as March. If you haven’t had your flu vaccine yet, you still have time.
5. Feed a cold, starve a fever: False!
Are you congested? Nourishing foods like chicken soup will strengthen your immune system. Have a fever? Your metabolic rate is screaming for energy, not fewer calories to combat infection. Food and plenty of liquids are necessary to fight off both cold and flu symptoms.
With all the classic tales (and not to mention germs!) filling the air, it’s a challenge to know what sickness-fighting tips actually work — and what simply isn’t real.
Knowing the symptoms of cold and flu can help you get a head start to help ward off the winter bugs.
Cold indicators typically originate with a sore throat, and usually dissipate after a day or two. Nasal symptoms, runny nose, and congestion follow, along with a cough by the fourth and fifth day. Fever is infrequent in adults affected by colds, but a slight fever may be probable. Children are more likely to see a mild fever because of a cold.
Flu signs are usually more unadorned than cold symptoms and hit us rather quickly, which can make it a very serious illness for some. Symptoms of the flu include sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches, soreness, and coughing. Most flu symptoms gradually mend over two to four days, but it's not uncommon to feel exhausted and achy for a week. A common complication of the flu is pneumonia, principally in the young, elderly, or individuals with lung and heart complications.
This article was written by the medical research team at WhereismyDoctor.com
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