6 popular flu myths debunked
Flu season is well underway, and if you’ve ever had the flu, chances are that some of the advice friends and family gave you about avoiding or dealing with this virus were wrong.
So we spoke with Dr Luke James, Medical Director for Bupa UK, who helped us separate the facts from the fiction and debunk these common myths about the flu virus.
1 The flu is just a bad cold
Although flu and the cold are both caused by viruses, they’re completely different ones. They may share some symptoms, like a sore throat, runny nose and a cough, but they’re not the same. Symptoms of the flu can come on suddenly and sometimes severely and you’re also likely to spend two or three days in bed with the flu.
Read more: Health A-Z: Coughs and colds
2 You can catch the flu from the flu vaccine
The flu vaccine contains inactivated flu viruses, so it can’t give you the flu. You may get some mild side effects from the vaccine, such as your arm feeling sore, a slight temperature and aching muscles, but this isn’t the flu.
3 Vitamin C prevents the flu
Some people think that taking vitamin C supplements will help them avoid the flu, but there’s no evidence to prove this. You can reduce your risk of catching flu by getting the flu jab each year and washing your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs. Eating healthily, exercising and getting enough regular sleep can help boost your immune system, which can help prevent it too. While it won’t help you avoid the flu, vitamin C can help lessen the severity and duration of a common cold.
Read more: Vitamins masterclass: the 10 golden rules
4 Going out with wet hair will make you sick
You won’t get ill simply because you’ve gone out with damp hair. You can catch a virus or cold when you’re outside, but this isn’t directly from having wet hair. Cold and flu viruses travel through the air, so you’ll only get sick if you get exposed. Germs can only get into your body through your eyes, nose and mouth. So whilst you may feel chilly, it won’t actually make you sick.
5 Feed a cold, starve a fever
If you have the flu and a fever, you need to drink plenty of fluids to prevent your body from getting dehydrated, as when you’ve got a fever, your body loses fluids when you sweat. And although you might not feel like eating, it’s important to keep your body nourished and hydrated. This will help you fight off the illness and recover.
6 Chicken soup will speed up your recovery
Unfortunately, chicken soup has no specific qualities that can help fight the flu, apart from soothing a sore throat and providing much-needed fluids for your body. There’s no quick fix for the flu – the best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen may relieve any aches and lower a high temperature.
Read more: Get ready: it’s coughs and sneezes season