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Top 10 Myths About The Common Cold

by Jamie Frater
fact checked by Alex Hanton

Winter is on its way (to the Northern Hemisphere) and with it comes myths of the common cold. We all grow up with a variety of beliefs about the common cold that often differ from home to home, but the fact is, most of them are wrong. With this list we will help to educate everyone about the myths relating to the cold and flu and hopefully help us to be better prepared to cope with it in future.


Sweat it out

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We have all done it – or at least seen others do it: covering up with extra blankets, sticking your head over a bowl of hot water – all in the hopes that we will sweat the cold out. Unfortunately, this does not work – it is completely ineffective. The only benefit this may have is to make you feel a little better (because it addresses the symptoms).


Flu Shot Dangers

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This is a particularly odd myth – many people believe that you can catch a flu from the flu injection. This myth comes about from the misconception that the flu vaccine contains a weakened form of the flu virus. The vaccine actually includes only components of the virus, and not a complete version of it. Therefore, you won’t catch the flu from a flu shot.


Weak Immune System

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A weakened immune system does not heighten the risks of catching a cold. Healthy and unhealthy people exhibit the same amount of susceptibility to colds in studies that have been done. Interestingly, the same study found that 95% of people who had the cold virus directly applied to their nasal membranes became infected, but only 75% of them exhibited any symptoms of the cold. This is called an “asymptomatic infection”.


Vitamin C

Vitamin C

It is a myth that loads of vitamin c and zinc help to stave off (or cure) a cold. While it is often a good idea to take vitamin and mineral supplements, they have no effect on the cold virus. Once the cold hits, you are better off taking painkillers and waiting it out.


Winter Colds

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Myth: most colds are caught in the Winter. Fact: most colds are caught in the Spring/Fall seasons and not Winter at all. This is because the virus becomes much more active in those seasons and seems to become largely dormant in the Winter.


Don’t Drink Milk

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A lot of people think that drinking milk while you have a cold is a bad idea because it causes more mucous to build up. Actually, milk does not cause a build up of mucous at all – you can drink as much of it as you like and it will have no effect on your cold.


Cold Kissing

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There is a popular myth that kissing a person with a cold will cause you to catch it. The reality is that the quantity of virus on the lips and mouth are miniscule and a much larger dose would be required for you to become infected. It is the nasal mucous you have to worry about – so no nose-kissing.


Cold Causes a Cold

In The Blue Room Freezing Gravity

I bet most people here have been told, at one time or another, not to go out with wet or damp hair, or to wrap up warm so you don’t catch cold. In fact, the body temperature (or ambient temperature) makes no difference at all. You catch a cold when you come into contact with the cold virus – once the virus gets into your system you will get sick. It doesn’t matter if you are hot, cold, warm, or dry.


Don’t Treat Cold Symptoms


Many people believe that the symptoms of a cold (running nose, coughing etc.) are designed to help us get over the sickness quickly – therefore they don’t believe that we should treat the symptoms with medicines. But the truth is that the symptoms not only make no difference to the duration of the cold, they can help spread the bug to other people – through noseblowing and coughing. You should take comfort in knowing that pain killers and other cold medicines will not only make the illness more tolerable, they will help to keep it contained.


Starve a Fever

No Eating

I am sure that everyone has heard the phrase “starve a fever, feed a cold.” The fact is, it is completely untrue. Eating has no negative impact on the body when you are sick, in fact, the opposite is true. Food provides the body with fuel to cope with illness – so when we are sick, it is a good idea to eat healthy and well. I recommend a good bowl of chicken soup for a start!

fact checked by Alex Hanton
Jamie Frater

Jamie is the founder of Listverse. When he’s not doing research for new lists or collecting historical oddities, he can be found in the comments or on Facebook where he approves all friends requests!

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