3 Common Cold and Flu Myths

Mothers usually know best. But your mom may have led you astray with a few pieces of her sick-day advice. Parents often ask my opinion about a piece of cold and flu info they've heard and practiced for years. But in reality, science proves that some longstanding beliefs simply aren't true. Here are three myths that I hear often in my practice … and the truth behind each one. Read on; you just might be surprised at the truth behind cold and flu myths!

Cold and Flu Myth No. 1: Cold weather can make you sick.
The truth: Going outside in chilly weather without a jacket or with a head of wet hair isn't likely to cause the sniffles. In one study published by the journal Family Practice, people were exposed to the cold virus and asked to stand in rooms of varying temperatures; all groups had virtually the same rate of infection, no matter if they were freezing or toasty.

The fact that colds and the flu are more common in winter is likely because we tend to spend more time indoors when it's cold outside, which increases our chances of coming into contact with sniffling people or contaminated surfaces. Protect yourself and others by always covering your sneezes with an elbow or a tissue and making sure to frequently wash your hands.

Cold and Flu Myth No. 2: Milk can increase mucus production.
The truth: If you're not lactose intolerant, you can drink milk and eat yogurt when you're under the weather. An Australian study, which required 60 volunteers to consume varying amounts of dairy when they were sick with a cold, found no significant connection between milk intake and phlegm production.

Cold and Flu Myth No. 3: Green mucus is a sign of a sinus infection.
The truth: The color of your child's mucus doesn't necessarily mean that he needs antibiotics: Green or yellow mucus just means that that phlegm has been lingering in the nose longer, which can occur with viral infections like a cold. But if the mucus is a color other than greenish-yellow or continues for more than 10 days, it's time to see the doctor.

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