Myths about winter flu: fact or fiction?

[Emma Langschied | Design Sub Editor]

Colds and flu are already beginning to creep into classrooms and with an “arctic freeze” forecast by scientists, it seems appropriate to filter out the fact from the fiction when it comes to tackling winter illnesses.

Over-the-counter cold and flu medicine company, Theraflu, conducted some research to discover whether any advice passed down through generations about winter colds and flu, relate to any scientific fact.

Feed a cold and starve a fever,” is a saying most people like to make the most of – well, when they have a cold that is. Unfortunately, the research concluded that it was little more than a saying. Eat healthily to become healthy again, is the advice experts offer. A balanced diet full of all the nutrients your body needs to recover will be far better than depriving it of that, or from eating too much and adding bloating and feeling lethargic to your list of symptoms.

Eat chicken soup,” is another tradition that seems too good to be true. This one however, is very beneficial, and it applies to all types of soup. The steam from the soup helps to reduce congestion and the soup itself will help to keep you hydrated.

Hog the pillows.” As enticing as this one sounds, it seems a little bit random. Surprisingly though, an extra pillow at night helps by elevating the head slightly, which can make it a bit easier to breathe.

Drinking milk produces more mucus,” – wrong. There is no evidence of this. In fact, milk is full of vitamins and minerals so it does a lot more good than it does bad for colds and flu.

Antibiotics cure colds and flu.” Colds and flu are viruses and antibiotics are for treating bacterial infections. So no, it’s not going to work.

The flu vaccine can give you the flu” – so send all of the elderly, pregnant and people more prone to medical complications to get flu vaccinations? Medical professionals know what they are doing here; the virus in the vaccine is inactive so it cannot make you ill.

Gargle salt water,” gross yes, but brilliant, also yes. Salt dissolved in warm water can sooth a sore throat when gargled, but no, do not swallow it.

Sweat it out.” Wearing extra layers, going to the gym and steaming for long periods of time, are all more harmful than good. You cannot sweat out a virus; the only difference it could make is to cause you to feel more unwell by becoming dehydrated and exhausted. Instead, try to maintain a constant comfortable temperature, if you have a fever, try putting a cold damp piece of cotton wool on your forehead to cool you down. Otherwise, just treat your body normally.

If you have concerns that your cough, cold or flu could be something more serious this winter, then do not be afraid to make an appointment at the Medical Centre at College Lane by calling 01707 284444.

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Myths about winter flu: fact or fiction?