Cold and Flu Myths

It’s cold and flu season, so your head and nose are probably already clogged. Let us help you clear at least your brain by demystifying some commonly believed mistruths about colds and flus.

Myth: You can catch a cold or the flu by going out in cold weather without a coat or hat, or with wet hair.

Truth: viruses cause Colds and flus — not cold air or exposure to the elements.


Myth: A flu shot can make you sick.

Truth: Some flu vaccines might make you feel a little weird in the hours or days after they get injected into your arm. You might experience headache, a slight fever, and other early flu symptoms. But then they go away. If you do get sick after you’ve been vaccinated, the flu shot isn’t what made you sick — you picked up a cold, or a strain of flu that the vaccine didn’t address. Or the flu virus was already in you when you got the shot, and the vaccine hadn’t taken effect yet.


Myth: Stomach flu is a type of flu.

Truth: A nasty bug that leads to vomiting and diarrhea isn’t actually a type of influenza. It’s gastroenteritis.


Myth: Over-the-counter cold remedies shorten the duration of a cold.

Truth: Not really. A cold lasts a full seven to 10 days, with the severity of symptoms lessening over time. All cold pills do is help you manage the day-to-day symptoms of the sickness.


Myth: The common cold is a single, specific, communicable illness.

Truth: Getting a cold is common, but the sickness called “the cold” is not. Each year, different (but similar) strains descend on the population, only to mutate and return…and get people sick all over again. There are about 100 different viruses in circulation referred to as “the cold.”