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Debunking Common Cold and Flu Myths


Updated May 08, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

There are many cold and flu myths that have passed through friends, family, and strangers alike. How do you know what is fact and what is fiction? Read about some of the most common cold and flu myths and find out the truth behind them.

1. Cold Weather Can Make You Sick

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How many times did your mother tell you that you would get sick if you went outside in the cold? Sorry Mom, but the only illness you will get from going outside dressed improperly is hypothermia, not a cold or the flu.

2. Feed a Cold and Starve a Fever

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Or is it the other way around? Whichever you have been told, neither is accurate. Your best bet is to stay hydrated and eat when you feel like eating.

3. My Dog Gave Me the Flu

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Sorry, but this excuse doesn't hold any water. There are a few illnesses that can pass between animals and humans, but you likely won't catch a cold or the flu from Fido -- or Fluffy.

4. Vitamin C Will Cure or Prevent the Common Cold

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This one isn't a complete myth, but most research has shown that vitamin C doesn't do a whole lot for most people in treating or preventing the common cold.

5. You Shouldn't Exercise When You're Sick

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If you have the flu, you definitely shouldn't be exercising. And believe me, if you really have the flu, exercising won't even be an option because you will feel much too bad. But a minor cold may not be a reason to stay on the couch. Get some guidance about exercising when you are sick.

6. Colds are More Common During Pregnancy

If you are pregnant and feel like you just can't stay well, it probably isn't your imagination. Pregnant women actually are more susceptible to illnesses such as colds and the flu.

7. You Shouldn't Breastfeed if You're Sick

Many nursing mothers wonder if breastfeeding is safe when they are sick. Breast milk is so good for babies, it is almost always best to continue breastfeeding. Find out if you should breastfeed when you are sick or not.
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