The cold and flu season has hit early and hard this year. As the number of people infected continues to increase, so does the number of internet searches for ways to prevent or limit the duration of viral illnesses. But, what is fact and what is fiction?
"Last year, we had a pretty mild flu season, but this year it's coming back in full force. Though this winter has been mild, it's still colder than last year. The flu virus transmits better in colder weather and low humidity, so that could be a reason we are seeing more cases of flu this year," said Dr. Andrew Bonwit, pediatric infectious disease expert at Loyola University Health System
Whatever the reason, the flu and other viruses are wreaking havoc on people's busy lives. In desperate hope to keep viruses at bay, many people are wondering if some cold myths are true. Bonwit addresses 10 of the most common notions concerning colds and flu.
1.If I go outside with my hair wet I'll catch a cold: Fiction
"Colds come from viruses, not from wet hair. It's probably not a good idea to get chilled so it's best to dress appropriately when heading outside in the cold," Bonwit said.
2.Flu vaccines cause the flu: Fiction
"The flu shot is an inactive form of the virus, so it is impossible to get the flu from the flu shot. There may be some minor reactions, usually muscle soreness at the injection site. The nasal drop does contain the live virus and so is not recommended for vulnerable patients. Still, the chances of getting the flu from the nasal drop are very slight," Bonwit said.
3.If I don't vomit, I didn't have the flu: Fiction
"Influenza can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but not always. Influenza is mainly a respiratory illness. It is possible to have a stomach virus but that is not influenza," Bonwit said.
4.Feed a cold and starve the flu: Not really
"The most important thing is to make sure you are well hydrated and eating as well of a balanced diet as you can. Don't force feed yourself or your child when ill, but try to get plenty of fluids and some electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. Good sources are crackers, bananas, soups and fruit juices," Bonwit said.
5.Chicken soup helps cure a cold: Some Fact
"Limited evidence shows that chicken soup might be helpful in fighting a cold. A small study has shown that it may help reduce the inflammatory response in your respiratory tract when you're sick and probably improves airflow and hydration. In any case it couldn't hurt," Bonwit said.
6.Viruses can survive on surfaces for hours: Fact
"The length a virus can survive depends on the type of virus. The flu virus can live for 8-12 hours on hard surfaces such as countertops and stainless steel sinks. On soft surfaces, such as cloth, it won't live very long. Still, it is extremely important to practice good hand hygiene. If someone in your home is sick, be sure to clean all hard surfaces with appropriate household disinfects, like diluted bleach or disinfectant cleaning wipes often."