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Fact or fiction: Loyola doctor weighs on flu myths

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.

A pediatric infectious disease expert weighs in on the 10 most common myths, including chicken soup. See how many you guess.

1. If I go outside with my hair wetI’ll catch a cold: Fiction

“Colds come from viruses, not from wet hair. It’s probably not agood idea to get chilled so it’s best to dress appropriately whenheading outside in the cold.”


2. Flu vaccines cause the flu: Fiction

“The flu shot is an inactive form of the virus, so it isimpossible to get the flu from the flu shot. There may be someminor reactions, usually muscle soreness at the injection site. Thenasal drop does contain the live virus and so is not recommendedfor vulnerable patients. Still, the chances of getting the flu fromthe nasal drop are very slight.”


3. If I don’t vomit, I didn’t have theflu: Fiction

“Influenza can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but not always.Influenza is mainly a respiratory illness. It is possible to have astomach virus but that is not influenza.”


4. Feed a cold and starve the flu: Notreally

“The most important thing is to make sure you are well hydratedand eating as well of a balanced diet as you can. Don’t force feedyourself or your child when ill, but try to get plenty of fluidsand some electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. Good sourcesare crackers, bananas, soups and fruit juices.”


5. Chicken soup helps cure a cold: Somefact

“Limited evidence shows that chicken soup mightbe helpful in fighting a cold. A small study has shown that it mayhelp reduce the inflammatory response in your respiratory tractwhen you’re sick and probably improves airflow and hydration. Inany case it couldn’t hurt.”


6. Viruses can survive on surfaces forhours: 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 ascountertops and stainless steel sinks. On soft surfaces, such ascloth, it won’t live very long. Still, it is extremely important topractice good hand hygiene. If someone in your home is sick, besure to clean all hard surfaces with appropriate householddisinfects, like diluted bleach or disinfectant cleaning wipesoften.”


7. If I get a cold or the flu, vitaminC will help me get better faster: Fact AND fiction

“Some people think taking extra large doses of vitamin C willhelp them get better faster. This probably isn’t true since yourbody most likely won’t absorb that much of the extra vitamin C. Youcan find some benefit from consuming vitamin C naturally throughnormal supplement doses or eating fruits with lots of vitamin C,especially citrus fruits, and other fruits and vegetables such asonions. No guarantee it will make you better faster, but it mayhelp some, and it can’t hurt.”


8. Taking zinc will make my cold goaway faster: Some fact

“There is some mixed evidence. Limited studies have shown thatthroat lozenges with zinc have helped. Other zinc remedies, such asthe nasal swabs, caused negative side effects such as people losingtheir sense of smell. Throat lozenges, with zinc or not, helprelieve throat pain so whether or not they help you get betterfaster, they will help relieve a sore throat. Just don’t give themto a child under the age of 5 as they can be a choking hazard.”


9. Sleep is one of the most importantthings for kids with a virus: Fact

“Sleep is extremely important to help kids fight a virus. Ifthey are sick, let them sleep. Just make sure they don’t havedifficulty being awakened as this could be a sign of something moreserious. Watch to make sure they are breathing normally. If not,call your doctor.”


10. After three days my child is nolonger contagious: Depends

“Every virus is different and how long a person is contagiouscan depend on the person as well as the virus. A child withinfluenza is usually contagious for about a week.”


Our product picks for cold and flu season

It’s that time of year again, when days and nightsare filled with runny noses and kids coughing. So we decided to puta few flu and cold products to the test to get you prepared foranother germ invasion. All of these products are available at localstores or online at the major retailers.


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