Flu 101: Myth vs. Fact
Flu season brings about its fair share of skepticism and unending questions. However, it's important to draw a distinction between myth and fact. Random Facebook posts and uninformed relatives may tell you a thousand different rumors about the flu, which is why you should always cross-verify advice and refer only to medically reviewed articles. For starters, read on to find out some common misconceptions about the flu, and the truth behind the lie…
Myth 1: “The flu is just like a cold.”
Fact: Influenza is much worse than the flu; in 2019 alone it caused approximately 24,000 deaths. Though symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, headache, fever, sneezing, and cough are experienced with both the flu and the common cold, hospitalizations occur as a result of influenza-induced breathlessness, high fever, etc. Getting vaccinated can reduce the chance of flu severity.
Myth 2: “Starve the fever/cold.”
Fact: Poor nutrition can slow down recovery time significantly. It is vital that you eat well while fighting a cold or flu. Even if your appetite decreases, it is still important to eat full meals and stay hydrated.
Myth 3: “Going out in cold weather, having wet hair, swimming, and forgetting to wear a jacket can cause the flu.”
Fact: Just because the flu coincides with colder seasons does not mean that the two are related. Weather does not cause the flu, only catching the influenza virus can cause the flu.
Myth 4: “You don’t need to get the flu shot every single year.”
Fact: Much like COVID-19, the influenza virus mutates every year, so vaccinating against the flu will help you stay protected against newer strains that are most likely to cause an outbreak.
Myth 5: “It is impossible to spread the flu if you aren’t having any symptoms.”
Fact: About 20% - 30% of people who have influenza do not experience any symptoms, but are still capable of passing the virus onto someone else. Not everyone will have symptoms at the same level of severity, which is why it is important to get vaccinated and stay protected against the virus.
Myth 6: “Antibiotics can cure the flu.”
Fact: Influenza is caused by a virus. Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria. Hence, curing influenza will require antiviral medication, not antibiotics.
Myth 7: “If you’re healthy, you do not need the flu shot.”
Fact: Able-bodied, healthy individuals are still capable of getting the flu, however they may be less susceptible than those who are immunocompromised. Regardless, the CDC recommends that all those above 6 months of age, including pregnant women, must get the flu vaccine once a year.
There is no reason to be intimidated by the flu. Don’t allow medical misconceptions to keep you away from the help you need. Instead, stay informed and stay healthy this flu season.