Posted on Dec 31, 2020, 6 p.m.
We are in the flu and cold season once more, and there is a lot to be worried about, as such many are putting more focus on how to stay healthy, which is a good thing. From taking dietary supplements to drinking a lot of soup and practically bathing in hand sanitizer we have all heard about a zillion different ways to avoid getting sick.
Just because you read it on social media or hear it from a friend/relative does not mean it is actually true. We’ve collected some points from experts that might help to separate the fact from fiction on some of the most common germ myths.
Gloves prevent you from picking up germs. Sorry folks but this is a myth, whether they be winter gloves or the surgical kind this is not the best way to avoid germs for the general population. The problem is that gloves tend to pick up the exact same pathogens that you are trying to avoid with bare hands, then you transmit those pathogens to other surfaces with the gloves just the same, like touching your face, or picking up an object according to Flushington Hospital Medical Center.
In order for gloves to serve any protective function to the general public at all one would need to wash or change them frequently, just as with bare hands which defeats the purpose of wearing them completely. On the other hand, those in the medical field, or those caring for an ill person are recommended to use gloves and dispose of them after finished with that individual incident, and repeat with every case while being sure not to touch your person and wash hands immediately afterward with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, according to the CDC.
Another common myth is that vitamin C can cure a cold. Vitamin C is important to immune defense needed for healing and effective function, but while studies show that it can help to reduce a cold’s duration, in part because it compensates for the increased inflammatory response and metabolic demand, vitamin C alone will not cure a cold, according to the NIH. The best remedy for a cold is still good old fashioned sleep, it’s essential for recovery.
One myth I hear all the time is that having the flu is the same as a bad cold. While they can have the same symptoms, the flu is far more dangerous than a common cold. The two are not the same, in fact in America, while the impact varies, there were 35.5 million illnesses, 34,200 people died, 16.5 million sought medical attention, and more than 490,000 were hospitalized in 2018-2019 due to the flu, according to the CDC. Certain people are at an increased risk as well, including infants, the elderly, pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems, and those with medical conditions like cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
You need antibiotics for the flu… no, this is another false myth. Antibiotics are specifically designed to kill bacteria not viruses as they are completely different organisms. Not all viruses have medications, but supportive therapy and antiviral medications can help to treat viruses. During a viral infection sometimes immune function can get so challenged that a person can develop a superimposed bacterial infection such as pneumonia, in these cases taking an antibiotic may be of benefit. Antibiotics only treat certain infections caused by bacteria such as strep throat, whooping cough, urinary tract infection, and life-threatening conditions caused by bacteria like sepsis. Antibiotics will not work on viruses, colds, most sore throats, flu, and most cases of chest colds. Antibiotics may not even be needed for some sinus infections and some ear infections, according to the CDC.
Starve a fever and feed a cold. Who has not heard this multiple times in their lives? But this is also fiction, whether the cold or flu the immune system needs nutrients and energy to do its job properly. Not eating will not be doing you much good while you are sick, it may be the last thing on your mind, but eating and getting enough fluids is essential to the healing process. If you can not eat try sipping on water, tea, and broth as hydration is the key to recovery.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.
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