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Myth 1: The flu is just a bad cold
While some people may use the words cold and flu interchangeably, they are in fact very different. Flu is a much more serious illness than the common cold.
“People need to understand that the flu is serious and can turn deadly,” Dr. Melissa Stockwell, associate professor of pediatrics and population and family health at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, told CBS News. “The CDC just released data that last flu season 80,000 Americans died from flu.”
Myth 2: You can get the flu from the flu shot
Some people put off or refuse to get vaccinated against the flu because they fear they will get the flu from the shot. This is simply not possible, experts explain.
“The flu vaccine is not a live virus,” Taege said. “You cannot become infected from the vaccine itself.”
Myth 3: I got a flu shot last year so I don’t need to get another one
The CDC recommends everyone age 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu every year. Getting a flu vaccine one year does not make you immune to the following year’s flu virus.
An annual flu vaccine is needed for two reasons. The first is because the human body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time so a yearly vaccine is needed for optimal protection.
Second, since different strains of the flu circulate each year and are constantly changing, the formulation of the flu shot is reviewed and updated each year to keep up with changing flu viruses.
Pediatricians recommend flu shots for kids
Myth 4: Loading up on vitamins can ward off colds and flu
When some people feel a cold coming on, they immediately load up on vitamin C to “nip it in the bud.” Unfortunately, there is no scientific proof that vitamins can help prevent a cold or flu.
“Maintaining rest, hydration, good nutrition all along is important,” Taege said, “but flooding yourself with vitamins at the time you think you’re having an onset of an illness, is not going to prevent it to the best of our knowledge.”
There is some research to support taking oral zinc tablets to help shorten the length of a cold.
Myth 5: Exercising while sick helps you “sweat out” the germs
Despite assertions that it’s possible to “sweat out” cold or flu germs, that notion is just “simply false,” Taege said.
“Exercising yourself to the point of fatigue with significant exertion while you’re ill is not a good idea. It’s not going to make it go away more quickly,” he said. “What you need to do is be sure that you’re staying hydrated and resting.”
Myth 6: You can still get the flu even if you got the flu shot, so there’s no point in getting vaccinated
Yes, it is still possible to become sick with the flu even if you’ve gotten a flu shot. However, that’s no reason to skip the vaccine — experts say some protection is better than none.
The flu vaccine is formulated each year to match the strains of the virus that health officials believe are most likely to circulate in the months ahead.
Myth 7: Going out in the cold weather without a coat will give you the flu
While illnesses from colds and flu are more common in the winter, the chilly temperature actually has nothing to do with whether or not you get sick.
“Being out in the cold really has no direct influence,” Taege said. “There has to be some exposure to the virus. So if you haven’t been in contact with someone who’s sick or with the virus itself, going outside without a proper jacket and hat on in 10 degrees F will make you cold, but it’s not going to give you influenza.”
Myth 8: I’m young and healthy so I don’t need to bother getting the flu shot
The flu can strike anyone at any age and lead to severe illness. While complications are more common in very young children, the very old, and in people with compromised immune systems, healthy young people can still be affected.
In addition to getting the flu shot, the CDC recommends the following steps to avoid illness this cold and flu season:
-Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. If soap isn’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
-Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
-If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible. If you have the flu, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities.
-Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as germs spread this way.
-Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw the tissue away.
-Disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
MSN/ Health and Fitness
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