Cold and flu myths busted

Is a flu jab es­sen­tial? Will you catch a cold from your sniffy col­league? Dr Ellie Can­non sep­a­rates the fact from the fic­tion…

Closer (UK) - - Inside This Issue... - ● Dr Ellie Can­non is a GP and am­bas­sador for Sol­gar vi­ta­mins (Sol­gar.co.uk)

WHAT IS THE DIF­FER­ENCE BE­TWEEN FLU AND A COLD?

There’s a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that the flu is merely a bad cold, but a com­mon cold usu­ally lasts for a few days and you may feel a lit­tle un­well. Mean­while, the flu is quite de­bil­i­tat­ing and causes sore throat, mus­cle ache, fever and lasts for around ten days. Last year, 150 peo­ple died from the flu, whereas no one be­comes se­ri­ously ill from a cold and you need to treat both dif­fer­ently.

WILL GO­ING OUT WITH WET HAIR MAKE ME ILL?

There’s no spe­cific truth to this. If you have wet hair, you’ll feel colder be­cause of the evap­o­ra­tion of the wa­ter, but not much else will hap­pen. What mat­ters is whether you’re ex­posed to a virus, not nec­es­sar­ily the tem­per­a­ture. Stud­ies have shown that if your core tem­per­a­ture drops too low, it can weaken your im­mune sys­tem, but you can catch a cold at any time of the year – even in sunny climes.

IS VI­TA­MIN C BEST FOR FIGHT­ING SYMP­TOMS?

Vi­ta­min C is good for pre­vent­ing ill­ness, but once you have a cold, it’s ques­tion­able whether it will do any­thing for you. Of course, eat­ing and drink­ing well and get­ting plenty of rest will help you get bet­ter, but it’s more ben­e­fi­cial to con­cen­trate on a mul­ti­vi­ta­min for a healthy im­mune sys­tem. Try one that in­cludes vi­ta­mins C and D, plus plenty of iron and zinc.

CAN YOU CATCH A COLD FROM AN­OTHER PER­SON?

Most of us think colds are very con­ta­gious, but it can be dif­fi­cult to catch one from an­other per­son, un­less they have coughed or sneezed and you’ve in­haled the in­fected droplets. A lot of viruses come from con­tam­i­nated sur­faces rather than other peo­ple. You’re more likely to catch a cold by touch­ing a hand rail in your bath­room than by some­one breath­ing on you, as viruses tend to sur­vive on hard sur­faces.

IS A FLU JAB WORTH HAV­ING?

The flu vac­cine is only rec­om­mended for peo­ple who are vul­ner­a­ble (chil­dren un­der five, the over-65s, and peo­ple with chronic health con­di­tions). It’s per­fectly safe to have it if you aren’t in one of these groups, but flu is a se­ri­ous ill­ness and most adults who are oth­er­wise healthy will have the ca­pac­ity to fight it off. Keep the flu vac­cine re­serves for those who re­ally need it.

DOES CHICKEN SOUP RE­ALLY CURE THE SNIFFLES?

There is no sin­gle treat­ment for a cold. The re­al­ity is that if you’re eat­ing hot, home­made food such as chicken and stew, it’ll al­ways make you feel bet­ter, be­cause it’s re­hy­drat­ing. If some­one else has made it for you, then that in it­self is very ther­a­peu­tic, be­cause you’ve had some­one else look­ing af­ter you.

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