Are you currently dealing with a stuffy nose, sore throat, and cough? Chances are it is a case of the common cold. The common cold is one of the most widespread illnesses, and it’s something that everyone has to deal with at some point in their lives. While it’s not usually serious, it can be difficult to deal with.
In this blog, we are breaking some of the most common myths and misconceptions about the common cold so that you can separate facts from myths. So, whether you’re currently dealing with a cold or want to be prepared for the next time you catch one, grab a tissue and let’s dive in!
Myth 1: You can catch a cold from being cold
Fact: The common cold is caused by a viral infection, typically from one of the rhinoviruses. The virus spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching the face. Being cold does not cause a cold, but being in cold temperatures may weaken the immune system, making a person more susceptible to catching a cold.
Myth 2: Antibiotics can cure a cold
Fact: Antibiotics do not work against viral infections like the common cold, as they are only effective against bacterial infections. A virus causes the common cold, and antibiotics do not kill or stop viral infections. Taking antibiotics when not needed can cause unnecessary side effects and contribute to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. In most cases, the best way to treat a cold is to manage symptoms such as congestion and sore throat, get plenty of rest, and drink fluids.
Myth 3: Feed a cold, starve a cold
Fact: The saying “feed a cold, starve a cold” is common folk wisdom, but it is not supported by scientific evidence. There is no evidence to support the idea that eating or not eating certain foods can cure or prevent a cold. It’s important to continue to eat a healthy diet and drink fluids when you have a cold, as good nutrition can help support your immune system. Also, not eating can lead to weakness and fatigue, making you feel worse. Generally, it is best to listen to your body, eat when you feel hungry, and drink fluids to stay hydrated.
Myth 4: You can only catch a cold in the winter
Fact: It is a common misconception that you can only catch a cold in the winter. The common cold is caused by a viral infection, typically from one of the rhinoviruses, and it can occur any time of the year. Cold weather does not cause a cold, but the virus that causes the cold can spread more easily in the winter because people tend to spend more time indoors close to each other. Additionally, the dry, cold air can dry out the mucous membranes in the nose, making them more susceptible to infection. It is possible to catch a cold in any season, but it’s more common in the fall and winter months.
Myth 5: The flu and the cold are the same things
Fact: The flu (influenza) and the common cold are similar because they are both respiratory illnesses caused by viral infections, but they are not the same. The flu symptoms tend to be more severe than the common cold and can include fever, body aches, fatigue, and severe headache. Colds are usually milder; symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, and congestion. The common cold is usually caused by one of the rhinoviruses, while the influenza virus causes the flu. The flu can also lead to complications such as pneumonia, especially in people at high risks, such as older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions. On the other hand, a cold is generally considered a minor illness, and complications are rare. To avoid confusion, it’s important to know the difference between the two and seek medical attention when necessary.
Myth 6: You can only catch a cold from being near someone who is sick
Fact: The common cold is caused by a viral infection, typically from one of the rhinoviruses, and it can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching the face. Being near someone sick can increase your chances of catching a cold, but it is not the only way to catch it. It’s also important to note that some people can be infected with the cold virus and not show any symptoms, but they can still spread it to others.
Myth 7: You can only catch a cold once
Fact: It is not true that you can only catch a cold once. Many types of viruses cause the common cold, so it is possible to catch it multiple times. There are over 200 different cold-causing viruses, and the immunity gained from one cold-causing virus does not protect others. Even if you’ve had a cold caused by a specific virus, you can still catch the same virus again or catch a different cold-causing virus.
Additionally, immunity to cold viruses can wane over time, making it possible to catch the same cold again after some time.
Myth 8: You can sweat out a cold
Fact: The idea that sweating can help “sweat out” cold is a common myth. The common cold is caused by a virus unrelated to body temperature. Sweating is a normal bodily response to increased body temperature; it is not a cure for colds or other viral infections. Raising your body temperature through exercise or overheating may weaken your immune system and make it harder for your body to fight off the virus
Myth 9: Drinking alcohol can cure a cold
Fact: Drinking alcohol will not cure a cold. While alcohol may have some temporary effects that may make you feel better, such as reducing pain or making you drowsy, it can worsen the symptoms of a cold and make it more difficult to recover. Alcohol can also suppress the immune system, making it harder for your body to fight the virus causing your cold. Additionally, drinking alcohol can cause drowsiness, making it more difficult to get the rest you need to recover from a cold.
In conclusion, many misconceptions about the common cold can lead to confusion and misunderstandings about how to prevent and treat the illness. The best way to prevent and treat a cold is to practice good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing, and to take care of yourself by getting enough rest, staying well-hydrated, and taking over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms.
If you experience any difficulty related to the common cold, don’t delay consulting your doctor. Receiving the proper medical counseling and care is the only way to steer clear of any related medical complications.
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