5 common myths about the common cold


5 common myths about the common cold
More than 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.

According to dietitian Ravinder Lilly, misconceptions about the common cold are everywhere. 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.”

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

Myth 1: You should cover a sneeze with your hands.

Nothing incites fear, panic and horrifying flashbacks of Contagion movie scenes like being sneezed on during the throes 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.

Myth 2: Kissing is 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.

Myth 3: You 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.

Myth 4: Milk is 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.

Myth 5:  Orange juice will 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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