Fact or myth? Common misconceptions about the common cold

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – People are sneezing and coughing nearly everywhere you look this time of year and many are offering up tips on how to keep from catching a cold or how to get rid of one. You’ve probably heard the old wives’ tales – “wear your coat or the chill will give you a cold” or “feed a fever, starve a cold,” but are any of them true?

Myth #1: You’ll catch a cold in cold weather

This is false, says Dr. Katy Stordahl, emergency room physician at Children’s Hospital. Cold weather, wet hair and chills do not cause colds – viruses do. However, viruses can remain more stable in colder weather, meaning droplets that become airborne when we sneeze or cough can hang around longer in the air and on surfaces.

Myth #2: Chicken soup will heal a cold

This is also false. There’s no real cure for a cold, but chicken soup can make you feel better because it contains a mucus-thinning amino acid called cysteine.

Myth #3: Feed a fever, starve a cold

This is another false myth. Stordahl says both high fevers and colds cause fluid loss, so drinking lots of liquids is vital and skipping meals can cause loss of nutrients, which can make you even sicker.

The best way to treat a cold

Dr. Stordahl says the best ways to treat a cold are to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed, use a cool-mist humidifier or steamy bathroom, and gentle suction of nasal mucus using a bulb syringe when needed. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, but nothing caffeinated. Never give cough or cold medication to children under two.

See a doctor for a cough that lingers more than a week, if you or your child is coughing up a lot of mucus, has shortness of breath, unusual tiredness, inability to keep food or liquids down or signs of dehydration.More online:

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