This year's colder weather and low humidity may be the reason
behind all the missed days at work and school due to the flu, says
Dr. Andrew Bonwit, pediatric infectious disease expert at Loyola
University Health System.
People are wondering: Will chicken soup cure it?
Bonwit weighs in on the 10 most common myths, including chicken
soup. See how many you get correct.
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."
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."
3. If I don't vomit, I didn't have the
"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."
4. Feed a cold and starve the flu: Not
"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."
5. Chicken soup helps cure a cold: Some
"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."
6. Viruses can survive on surfaces for
"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
7. If I get a cold or the flu, vitamin
C will help me get better faster: Fact AND fiction
"Some people think taking extra large doses of vitamin C will
help them get better faster. This probably isn't true since your
body most likely won't absorb that much of the extra vitamin C. You
can find some benefit from consuming vitamin C naturally through
normal supplement doses or eating fruits with lots of vitamin C,
especially citrus fruits, and other fruits and vegetables such as
onions. No guarantee it will make you better faster, but it may
help some, and it can't hurt."
8. Taking zinc will make my cold go
away faster: Some fact
"There is some mixed evidence. Limited studies have shown that
throat lozenges with zinc have helped. Other zinc remedies, such as
the nasal swabs, caused negative side effects such as people losing
their sense of smell. Throat lozenges, with zinc or not, help
relieve throat pain so whether or not they help you get better
faster, they will help relieve a sore throat. Just don't give them
to a child under the age of 5 as they can be a choking hazard."
9. Sleep is one of the most important
things for kids with a virus: Fact
"Sleep is extremely important to help kids fight a virus. If
they are sick, let them sleep. Just make sure they don't have
difficulty being awakened as this could be a sign of something more
serious. Watch to make sure they are breathing normally. If not,
call your doctor."
10. After three days my child is no
longer contagious: Depends
"Every virus is different and how long a person is contagious
can depend on the person as well as the virus. A child with
influenza is usually contagious for about a week."
It's that time of year again, when days and nights
are filled with runny noses and kids coughing. So we decided to put
a few flu and cold products to the test to get you prepared for
another germ invasion. All of these products are available at local
stores or online at the major retailers.