We are in the thick of cold and flu season. The latest information from the CDC says that although a “B” strain of virus has been more prevalent early in the season, officials are now seeing an uptick in cases with a strain of the “A” virus. The “B” virus has been diagnosed more among children and young adults up to 24 years old, while an “A” virus has been more common among adults 65 and older.
With news of the deadly Coronavirus, it’s a good idea to revisit the facts versus fiction when it comes to colds and flu.
- Chicken soup is good for the flu – TRUE – a recent study found that chicken soup is good for what ails you, just like your mother said. Research published in the American Journal of Therapeutics found that a compound in chicken soup called carnosine can help strengthen the body’s immune system to fight off flu in its early stages. But you’ll need to consume a steady supply throughout your illness for the effect to work, the authors claim. The study supports a well-documented 1993 study, published in the journal Chest, that found that chicken soup had a mild anti-inflammatory effect that reduced symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.
- Flu shots cause the flu – FALSE – The flu vaccine is made up of only parts of the flu virus, not a whole virus, and as a result, it can’t make you sick. There is one caveat – the flu mist vaccine that’s sprayed into the nose is a tamed full virus and can cause mild symptoms such as sore throat or runny nose that lasts about a day, but it will not get into the lungs and cause the flu. Many people who get the shot, report getting the flu later in the season leading them to believe the shot didn’t work. That’s because the vaccine is only about 50-70 percent effective. It will, however, mollify the virus making the person’s reaction less severe. So, if you get the shot and do get the flu, chances are it will be less serious than if you weren’t vaccinated at all.
- Vitamin C can reduce cold and flu symptoms – TRUE – researchers have found that having low levels of vitamin C can affect the severity of colds and flu. Scientifically controlled studies using vitamin C for colds show that it can reduce the severity of cold symptoms, by acting as a natural antihistamine. By giving your immune system one of the most important nutrients it needs, extra vitamin C can often shorten the duration of the cold as well.
- Going outside with a wet head will give you a cold – FALSE – In one survey, 40 percent of mothers said they believed sending their kids out in the cold weather with a wet head would get them sick. The truth is being cold and wet does not cause colds. You also won’t catch a cold from going outside without your coat, although you’ll probably feel pretty miserable. And you also won’t catch cold from going to bed with a wet head. Colds are actually caused by viruses. You need to be exposed to the cold virus in order to get sick. More than 200 different viruses can cause colds, but the biggest culprit is the rhinovirus.
- Young, healthy adults don’t need the flu shot – FALSE – While it may be true that being young and healthy might not put you at a higher risk of getting the flu, you should still get vaccinated. This one is all about herd immunity – or the idea that by everyone getting vaccinated – we are actually protecting those who didn’t or can’t because of compromised immune systems. Even mild cases of the flu, while they may not be debilitating, can still pose a danger to others. You may not feel sick and may go to work or school, but then you can pass on the virus to others.