Andrew Murrison: Flu may 'come back and bite us' during winter
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Infections are likely to be high this winter after more than 18 months of successive lockdowns, so preparation is key when protecting yourself from a bad infection and bouncing back fighting fit. But there’s little point in wasting your time with old wives tales and hoping for the best – so here are five of the most common myths about the cold and flu you should avoid.
Wet hair outside will give you a cold – FALSE
The idea that going out with wet hair will give you a cold is nothing more than an old wives tale.
However, there is a slither of truth to it – going out with wet hair is likely to make you feel much colder, resulting in stress on the immune system.
When this happens, infectious germs already in your system have a chance to take hold – so wrapping up warm is a good line of defence against a winter cold.
READ MORE: ‘Flu could be a real problem’ Britons urged to get flu jab
If you don’t have a fever, you’re not contagious – FALSE
The cold and flu are both highly contagious, and whether you have a fever or not has absolutely nothing to do with transmission to other people.
How contagious you are depends on a number of factors.
According to the CDC in America, most healthy adults may be able to infect others with the flu virus from one day prior to showing symptoms and for five days after that, with or without a fever.
Some young children with weakened immune systems may be contagious for longer than a week.
Eating dairy will make your cold worse – FALSE
Consuming dairy when you have a cold can have a two-fold effect.
Drinking milk can cause phlegm to feel thicker, making you feel more congested – but it doesn’t cause the body to produce more phlegm.
Doctors often recommend drinking and eating dairy based products when ill as they are usually calorie-dense, so can make up for the negative effects of a lost appetite.
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Feed a cold, starve a fever – FALSE
If you have a cold or flu, no matter what you need to keep your body hydrated, and there’s no reason to increase or decrease the amount you’re eating.
Flu usually leads to a loss of appetite due to feeling generally unwell, but failing to give your body the nutrients it needs will accomplish nothing.
However, hot liquids increase the temperature in the nose and mouth and help kill viruses off more quickly.
You can ‘sweat out’ a cold or flu – FALSE
Anyone who has suffered from a cold or flu knows how painful and irritating it can be – and the sooner the symptoms pass, the better.
One common home remedy is to make yourself warm enough to the point of sweating, with many believing this can speed up the course of your illness.
However, medical experts have said this is completely false – while you should make yourself comfortable and rest while ill, only your immune system can fight off a cold or flu and there’s little you can do to make it speed up that process apart from taking care of your body.
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