There are many myths when it comes to the causes and cures of the common cold and the flu. Each family has its own beliefs, favorite remedies and grandmothers who faithfully pass along their most effective cures. But what is myth and what is fact? It may be comforting to believe that only Grandma’s chicken soup can make you feel better, but you need the facts, as well.
Cold weather causes earaches. False. Cold weather may make an earache worse, but it doesn’t cause an earache. If a virus, cold, or infection has caused an earache, cold temperatures may make the pain worse. A cold wind can reach the already sensitive tissues in the ear and make the earache feel as though it is getting worse. The best way to prevent worsening earaches from the cold is to always keeps the ears covered in warm weather.
It’s best to cover your mouth with your hand when you cough. False. It is best to cough into the crook of the elbow. If you cough into your hand and then touch a door knob, phone, computer keyboard, or the TV remote, you have now passed the cold germ onto those surfaces. Always cough and sneeze into your elbow to prevent the spread of the cold virus.
Cold weather can give you a cold. True and False. The cold weather does not give you a cold. Viruses cause a cold. In fact, according to a study by the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, the cold actually stimulates the immune system causing the body to release the hormone norepinephrine1, which is a natural decongestant and increases blood circulation (which warms the body).
However, if you stay out in the cold too long, you could suffer from hypothermia which is the lowering of your body temperature. A lowered body temperature can hinder your immune system which, of course, will make it quite difficult to fight off viruses that cause colds. Moreover, in the cold, blood vessels in the nose can become vasoconstricted which dries them out and hinders their ability to filter the air you inhale allowing rhinoviruses to invade.
Chicken soup aids in fighting the common cold. True. It turns out that the family recipe for chicken soup may actually help to fight a cold because it’s packed with ingredients that fight inflammation and strengthen the immune system. In regard to inflammation, when the body thinks that it’s being threatened by a foreign body, it activates tissues (inflames them) to fight the infection. Therefore, fighting inflammation can help to fight the cold.
- Carrots, onion and celery strengthen the immune system
- Chicken broth promotes nasal decongestion
- Chicken bolsters the immune system
- Noodles just taste good and provide the heartiness and fullness we crave
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