The truth about the common cold

Myths and truths about cold treatment and preventionI woke up a few days ago with a scratchy throat and drippy nose. I wondered if it was the beginning of a cold. Could I have done something to prevent it? Was there anything I could do to get over a cold quicker?

Find out the truth about preventing a cold:

Myth or Truth: Cold weather causes a cold
Myth. Cold weather or temperature changes don’t bring on a cold. It’s an old wives’ tale. Colds are caused by contracting a virus. There is some truth that you may be more likely to get a cold in the winter months. That’s because you spend more time shut up indoors, and it’s easier to share cold germs.

Myth or Truth: Wash your hands
Truth! Colds are most commonly spread by coming into contact with someone who is carrying the cold virus and then touching your eyes or nose. Washing your hands is the best way to get rid of cold germs before they can make you sick. Hand washing will also help keep you from spreading the virus to others once you’re already sick.

Myth or Truth: Take Vitamin C
There is some disagreement on the effectiveness of vitamin C. Some studies say it can prevent a cold and speed recovery. Other studies have shown that vitamin C doesn’t have any affect on prevention or treatment. Its anti-inflammatory properties may make you feel a little better when you’re sick.

Myth or Truth: Get more sleep
Truth. Getting enough sleep can help boost your immunity and reduce your risk of getting a cold. Extra sleep can also help you feel better when you’re in the midst of a cold.

Myth or Truth: Don’t go outside with a wet head
Myth. Going outside with wet hair won’t make you more prone to getting a cold. However, frozen hair is not necessarily the best look.

Myth or Truth: Stress can make you sick
Truth. When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels are elevated. These higher levels can lower your immune system function. Take the time to relax and try to reduce stress.

Myth or Truth: Get a flu shot
Myth: The flu shot is for the flu, not colds. There are over 200 cold viruses that can make you sick, and the flu shot does not protect against these viruses.

Get the truth about treating a cold:

Myth or Truth: Have some chicken soup
Truth, possibly. There have been some studies that show Mom may be right about eating a bowl of chicken soup. Some of the substances found in traditional chicken soup may offer medicinal benefits. In addition, the hot vapors may alleviate a stuffy nose and the liquid keeps you hydrated.

Myth or Truth: Drink lots of fluids
Truth. It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re sick. It’s not as important what you drink, including water, fruit juice, and even tea and coffee. It all counts as fluids. It may be better to avoid alcohol while you’re sick, though.

Myth or Truth: Feed a cold, starve a fever
Myth. You should eat when you feel hungry. The important thing is to keep hydrated.

Myth or Truth: Honey helps a sore throat or cough
Truth. Honey is full of antioxidants and can help sooth your irritated mucous membranes. It can comfort a sore throat and help control the urge to cough. Honey may even beat over-the-counter cough suppressants in relieving symptoms.

Myth or Truth: Antibiotics help you treat a cold
Myth. Antibiotics fight bacteria not viruses – and colds are viruses. By taking antibiotics when you don’t need them, it can actually be harmful to your health.

Myth or Truth: Zinc shortens a cold
Truth. If you take zinc at the first sign of symptoms, you can cut your cold short. In fact, zinc may shorten the length of a cold by up to 40%.

It looks like I can help prevent a cold by washing my hands, getting plenty of sleep and trying to avoid stress. So far, my cold-like symptoms haven’t turned into a cold. But if I should come down with a cold, I plan to eat some chicken soup and drink a cup of honey tea.

Do you have any additional tips for preventing or treating a cold?

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