Old wives tales and urban myths abound around the treatment of colds and flus. How do you sort out the facts from all the fiction?
Sneezing and coughing is the only way infection is spread
Fiction: Breathing in the expelled droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze will certainly expose you to the virus and you may catch the infection. But the viruses can survive for a few hours on surfaces such as eating utensils, pens, and phones. The most common way colds are spread is when an infected person coughs or sneezes on a surface, you touch the surface and then touch your own eyes or mouth. Frequent hand washing is the best way to stop this transmission from occurring.
Chicken soup will make you better
Fact: At least one study showed that our grandmothers were right! A university study showed that homemade chicken soup helped to stop the movement of white blood cells that cause the buildup of mucous in the nose and chest. It also prevented sore throats from developing and reduces the inflammation associated with colds and flus.
Going out in the cold and rain gives you a cold
Fiction: And here they were wrong! “You’ll catch your death of cold” is what they said, but this is now known to be untrue. There is no way you can get sick because of cold surroundings. The only way you will come down with a cold or flu is if you are exposed to the virus.
Zinc helps combat colds and flus
Fact: Zinc reduces the duration of a cold, the chance of developing a cold, the number of days off school or work, and the prescription of antibiotics. You need to have a therapeutic dose though – some studies used doses up to 75mg per day (for short term use only), and make sure you have it with food, as high doses of zinc can make you feel nauseous.
Cold and flu tablets cure the cold
Fiction: Many people ask us for cold and flu tablets to cure the cold, but this just won’t work. They work well to treat the symptoms but the effect only lasts for as long as the medicine stays in your body ie about 6 hours. The more effective medicines are only available in the pharmacy as they are restricted by medicine scheduling laws due to their potential for side effects and interactions. The brands available in the supermarket have different ingredients and really don’t work as well.
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