When it comes to your health you should never believe or trust old wives’ tales or common myths! As well as filling our heads with lies that can be imprinted into our memory, it can also prevent us from curing ourselves more quickly. You’re better to take advice from a doctor or pharmacist if you are in doubt. Here are some commonly believed myths about colds and flu that are complete rubbish.
1) “Cold air encourages a cold.”
How many times as a child were you told to wear more socks or extra layers so that you don’t catch a cold? Perhaps you might have heard this from your parents or a colleague at work who is complaining all the time about having a cold because of the heating. In every situation, wearing lots of layers or having wet hair won’t change much. Nor will the cold, the rain or the air-con, so don’t blame them either. A cold is caused by a virus. This virus normally is contracted through the air particles or when in contact with others. Moreover, it can survive for several hours ore even days on some surfaces. Therefore the best way to ward off colds and flu is to regularly wash your hands and to blow your nose.
However you should be aware that bacteria incubation favours dry air as this drys out and weakens the mucus membrane which allows the virus to enter your body more easily. This is why air humidifiers are recommended inside homes during the winter months. Cold weather might leave us more vulnerable to catching a virus as our immune systems are weakened…. this is where the confusion lies with the link between coldness and catching an winter bug!
2) “A cold can get worse and turn into the flu.”
This is never the case! These illness of are caused by different viruses so there is now way that a cold could turn into the flu. In general those who believe this myth do so because of a lack of knowledge of the first symptoms. A cold gradually lasts between 3 and 5 days at starts with a runny nose, a sore throat and a headache. If you have the flu you with suffer from immediate fever symptoms, muscle aches and pains. The main difference is your body temperature which increases only slightly in case of cold, while it will exceed 37.7 ° C in case of flu. What’s more, colds cause sneezing fits which isn’t caused when you have the flu.
3) “If you catch a cold you don’t have to worry about catching another for the rest of the season”
Our immune system creates antibodies which can fight a cold which explains why we a less likely to have the same virus again. However there are more than 200 viruses that cause a cold. Therefore you can still have another cold after you have had one the previous month.
4) “If I have just a cold, I don’t need to take time off work”
Some people don’t feel well but prefer to not listen to their body and try to get over their tiredness on their own. Of course it is courageous to keep going like a machine but that will just mean that you take longer to feel better again. What’s more, you are very contagious during the first few days and you will risk contaminating all your colleagues. If you don’t rest your little cold could last 4 weeks until you cough or runny nose has passed. All the same, you shouldn’t spend time in bed getting rid of your cold either. This doesn’t help your circulation which is crucial when you are ill and can cause bronchitis or pneumonia. Even if you can only move about a little it is better than nothing at all.
5) Ply yourself with antibiotics or cold medicine so you feel better quickly
Antibiotics are useless at combating viruses and can even make things worse as they can weaken your immune system. Therefore taking antibiotics will just encourage the virus which will take advantage of your weakened immunity and will settle in. These medicines also start to lose their effectiveness the more you take them. You should also not take lots of medicine just so you don’t feel any symptoms in hope that your cold will last just a day. In fact your body needs time to recuperate and this can create very dangerous pressure around your organs. Of course, this is particularly true for paracetamol. You should never take more than the recommended dose as it can have affects on your liver. Taking lots of medicine can also have negative and very serious consequences for your heart. As always, you should always remember not to treat medicine like a magic potions that you self prescribe. You should always seek medical advice if you are unsure how to improve your symptoms.
6) “It’s pointless to treat a cold as it will go away on it’s own!”
Oven a cold lasts only three days. Nevertheless it can last longer that this and become more complicated if you don’t treat it like you should. Put simply, a small cold that shouldn’t last very long can transform into twenty or even thirty days of uncomfortable symptoms! So tell yourself is it really worth it to let it clear up on it’s own?