8 ‘Facts’ on Fighting the Common Cold Debunked

January 16, 2019 Updated: May 13, 2019

When you have one of those days, your nose is running like a tap, you can’t stop sneezing, you feel pretty awful, and when you look in the mirror, well you just want to look away—guess what? You are more than likely suffering from a cold. So you take to the internet to find a quick fix. But that only makes your head, which was already aching, confused. Never mind, take heart, here are some quick facts to help you get a grip.

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We have all heard the saying, “Feed a cold and starve a fever,” right? But is that what you should really do? Take a look at this list of 8 ideas that are circulating about the common cold, and see where the truth lies.

1. Eating chicken soup can help fight a cold. True or false? Answer: True

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Research suggests that chicken soup may have anti-inflammatory actions in the body, and it also tastes great!

2. Having wet hair can give you a cold. True or false? Answer: False

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A common cold is caused by a virus, and having wet hair doesn’t increase your vulnerability to catch cold, unless perhaps you were suffering from severe hypothermia, in which case your immune system could be compromised.

3. Wearing a necklace of garlic cloves will keep the cold away when others are sneezing all over you. True or false? Answer: False

Illustration – Shutterstock | Marian Weyo

For garlic to be beneficial, you have to eat it; it can give your immune system a boost and is rich in antioxidants. A couple of cloves daily in your food will do the trick. But don’t try wearing it; you might end up without many friends!

4. Rubbing Vicks Vapor Rub on the feet will stop a cough. True or false? Answer: Supposedly false, although may be true

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Social media went wild with the suggestion that if you rub Vicks onto your feet at night, it will relieve your cough when you have a cold. There is no scientific evidence to prove this as true; however, many readers attest to its effectiveness. It can’t do any harm to try this if you are suffering!

5. You only catch cold once every season. True or false? Answer: False

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Because a cold is caused by a virus, when it attacks your body, you build up antibodies against any future invasion from the same virus. But the problem is, there are more than 200 different viruses that can cause a cold, so unfortunately you may fall victim to the cold again during the season.

6. The flu is just a bad case of catching a cold. True or false? Answer: False

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Colds are caused by different viruses to those that bring you down with the flu. The symptoms of both can start out similar, like having a stuffy nose, coughing, and feeling blocked up. But the flu can have extra symptoms such as a raging fever, nausea, and aching bones, and can lead to serious complications. In that case, you may need help from your friendly GP.

7. Antibiotics can cure a cold. True or false? Answer: False

Illustration – Shutterstock | Bukhta Yurii

If you take antibiotics in an attempt to cure your cold, you could easily weaken your immunity, leaving your body susceptible for more serious viruses to hop on board. Just remember, antibiotics cannot kill a virus!

8. Feed a cold and starve a fever. True or false? Answer: False

Illustration – Shutterstock | Fabio Balbi

When we are ill, our bodies need support. Fluids are the most important, especially when you have a temperature, as you need to avoid dehydration. But you will recover more quickly if you feed yourself with good food. Plenty of veggies and fresh fruit would be a good start!