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Cold & Flu Falsehoods

cold myths

Holiday travel season and cold-and-flu season are upon us and, for many, the two go hand in hand.

“Around the holidays, people have to travel, sick or well,” said Dr. Nina Shapiro, author of “Hype: A Doctor’s Guide to Medical Myths, Exaggerated Claims and Bad Advice.” That puts a lot of contagious people in close quarters, which perpetuates these illnesses, she said.

Myths and misinformation add to travelers’ woes. Follow Shapiro’s advice for a healthier trip.

Myth 1:

A flu shot will give you the flu. You hear lots of stories of folks who came down with the flu the week they got their flu shot, but the shot didn’t cause the illness. “The shot takes about two weeks to have effect, so during that two-week period after the flu shot people can get the flu because they were exposed to the flu, not because they got the flu shot,” Shapiro said. Getting your flu shot is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick during flu season.

Myth 2:

Cold weather will give you a cold. “Cold temperature does not cause a cold. A virus causes a cold,” Shapiro said. So worry less about what the weather is doing and more about commonsense preventive measures like hand-washing and staying away from people who are sick.

Myth 3:

Megadose on vitamin C to stay healthy. “There is no supplement or tea or pill that will  prevent colds,” Shapiro said. Those massive doses of vitamin C just wash through your

body without doing anything for your immune system. What will? A good night’s rest. “People really underestimate the importance of regular, good-quality sleep,” Shapiro said.

“Because if you are sleep deprived you are a little more susceptible to getting illnesses.”

Myth 4:

Antibiotics will help. “Antibiotics are one of the most overused medications in this country,” Shapiro said. Most respiratory illnesses are viruses, and antibiotics won’t touch those at all.

The best thing you can do if you have a cold or the flu is stay home and rest. If you must travel, Shapiro recommends bringing everyone their own bottle of nasal saline to help clear inflammation, packing plenty of tissues and baby wipes to keep hands, faces and surfaces clean, and trying an over-the counter decongestant to help with takeoff and landing.

How do you travel when you’re sick? Leave some tips in the comments!

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