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6 common myths about the common cold

Over 50 per cent of us will catch a cold this winter, but according to experts, most of us haven’t a clue how to fight off this age-old annoyance.

6 common myths about the common cold

According to expert nutritionist at USANA, Ravinder Lilly, misconceptions about the common cold are everywhere. Ms Lilly says, “The inaccurate remedies and rituals that people blindly follow are harder to stamp out than the virus itself. So many of us mistakenly look to methods that have for centuries been said to combat the common cold, when in fact they are nothing more than folklore.

“It’s time we forget everything we thought we knew about colds and separate fact from fiction, once and for all.”

Ms Lilly sets the record straight on some of the most pervasive misunderstandings around the common cold:

1. Never cover a sneeze with your hands.

Nothing incites fear, panic and horrifying flashbacks of Contagion movie scenes like being sneezed on during the throws of winter. Not to mention it’s considered quite rude. But before you cover your next sneeze with your bare hands, think twice. We fumble our way through life with our hands and chances are, you’ll pass along whatever bug it is that you’re hosting. So keep your hands clean – wash and moisturise after a sneeze and use a hand sanitiser if you’re caught out. Experts urge us to cover up with a tissue or aim for the crook of our elbow.

2. Kissing is not off limits.

There is a well-accepted misconception that locking lips with a person suffering from a cold will result in you catching it. Not true, say experts, so pucker up. In actuality, the quantity of the virus on the lips is surprisingly insignificant and not enough for you to become infected (unless you have a nasty cough, in which case respiratory mucus can sometimes make its way into your saliva). According to health experts it’s your hands that you should really be worried about as communal surfaces such as telephones, lifts and TV remotes are more likely to transmit germs. Feel free to smooch your honey, just don’t hold their hand.

3. You don’t catch a cold from getting cold.

Remember trying to leave the house in winter without your woollies, only for your mother to stop you in your tracks? Or being told to never go to bed with cold wet hair? One of the most common and long-held misconceptions is that being cold will give you a cold.

Truth be told, the cold weather won’t make you any more sick. Experts attribute this myth to the fact that more of us become sick during winter, when in fact it’s because people spend increased time indoors together and viruses spread more easily.

4.   Milk isn’t the enemy.

Since we were children we’ve been told that milk and colds don’t mix. The liquid you feel coating your throat after chugging down a deliciously creamy glass of milk feels a lot like the mucous build up you experience during a cold. But milk doesn’t cause a build up of mucous at all, so you’re still able to drink it in moderation. As the idea of drinking milk during a cold still makes most people green about the gills, try swordfish or salmon, along with a high-quality vitamin D supplement to boost energy and activate your immune defences.

5. It’s impossible to get sick from the same cold twice.

It’s true. That annoying cold that kept rearing its ugly head like a bad Final Destination sequel was in fact not the same cold at all. Reason being is that once you’ve been infected with a cold virus you generally become immune to it, making it highly unlikely that you’re infected again. The bad news, however, is that you’re still vulnerable to the other 200 or so viruses circulating at any given time, which can also unite with each other to create 1,500 different variations of colds. So generally speaking, that unrelenting cold is actually just the result of your immune system taking a beating by the original virus and making you more susceptible to new viruses.

6.  Orange Juice will not cure your cold.

Due to some very clever marketing throughout the decades, people have come to believe that consuming bulk doses of orange juice is a practical means for killing off a pesky cough or sore throat.  Unfortunately, no amount of OJ ingested before, during or after a cold will reduce its severity or extent. Truth be told, you’re better off looking to veggies such as broccoli and kale, which contain far more vitamin C than orange juice and none of the added sugar.

Ms. Lilly does recommend eating healthy foods, washing your hands for at least 30 seconds, getting regular exercise and learning to manage stress to help combat the common cold, along with the following:

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