Five Common Cold and Flu Myths

Five common beliefs about cold and flu season are debunked

Chicken Soup IS Good for Colds


Cold and flu season is picking up and we figured it was time to take a look at some of the common myths surrounding the season.

1.  Fact or Myth?Getting the flu vaccine too early in the year, means your protection will wear off before flu season ends.

Answer: Myth

Because the flu vaccine is readily available, many doctors begin receiving shipments in August. This doesn’t mean you should hold out until November (peak flu season) to get your vaccine. The vaccine is good for one year. So, you should at least try to get your vaccine around the same time each year for consistency.

2.  Fact or Myth?Stress increases your chances of getting a cold or the flu.

 Answer: Fact

Stress may not actually cause you to catch a cold or the flu, but it certainly weakens your immune system, making it more likely that to develop complications from a cold or the flu. If you get sick, take the time you need to get better. Pushing through work and trying to make that deadline won’t you do you any favors.

3.  Fact or Myth?“Feed a cold, starve a fever.” Or “Starve a cold, feed a fever.”

Answer: Myth

Regardless of which version you’ve heard, you won’t be hearing either from your doctor. It’s a very common old wives tale to say feed a cold and starve a fever. In reality, you really shouldn’t do the extreme of either when you’re treating a cold or the flu. Oftentimes when we’re not feeling well, we lose our appetites. It’s not important to force feed yourself in order to keep up with the cold. Instead, you should focus on drinking enough. It’s very important to stay hydrated when you have an upper respiratory infection or a cold, and especially the flu, as well, because when you’re feverish and sweating, you’re going to lose a lot of moisture.

4.  Fact or Myth?Chicken soup can help you feel better sooner if you have a cold.

Answer: Fact

It’s true. Chicken soup is actually good for the soul. While this tip goes at least as far back as the 12th century physician Maimonides (who some historians believe heard it from his mother), there is now solid medical evidence behind a remedy that was once only thought of as merely a comfort food. In 2000, University of Nebraska researchers showed that chicken soup does actually have an anti-inflammatory effect, mobilizing the neutrophils or the inflammatory cells and making them work a little bit better — and also keeping the mucus in the nose moving so that the virus, which sits in the nose, would mobilize a little bit faster and, maybe, potentially, get you better faster.

5.  Fact or Myth? There is no way to reduce the duration of a cold or the flu.

Answer: Myth

While the mythical status of most of these remedies may suggest that there’s no way out of a layover with cold or the flu, there is one way to cut down sick days from the flu, but you’ve got to be quick about it. If you do catch the flu early enough, you can take an antiviral to shorten the duration of the illness. But you have to act almost immediately and get in to see your doctor within the first 48 hours.


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