Content provided by InsWeb - With flu season in full swing, everyone's looking for ways to beat the flu bug. But with all the flu season myths floating around out there, how can you know the best way to keep healthy? Understanding the most common flu season myths can help keep your body strong and flu-free.
The Flu Virus
Influenza (the flu) is a serious respiratory illness caused by a number of influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases can result in death. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle and body aches, vomiting, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose and diarrhea.
In the United States, flu season begins in late August and runs through April. It is during this time that most people get sick.
Myth: Layering Yourself With Blankets Can Help You "Sweat" Out a Flu or Cold
Some people think putting on extra clothing or covering themselves in a mountain of blankets can help "sweat" out a cold. Unfortunately, no amount of sweat will help you get over a cold any faster. You may be frustrated with an illness you can't get rid of with antibiotics, but soaking yourself in sweat isn't worth the effort.
Myth: You Can Catch the Flu From a Flu Shot
Contrary to popular belief, a flu shot is not a weakened form of the flu virus. It contains components of the flu bug, but not enough to make you sick. Some experts believe the reason people think flu shots cause the flu is because most people get their vaccine at the beginning of flu season in October or November, and then catch the flu bug from another source.
Myth: Lingering in Wet Clothes Increases Your Chances of Getting Sick
While viruses are more common during the fall and winter months, several studies have shown that being outside in cold weather does not increase the likelihood of getting sick. Most experts believe that people staying indoors to avoid cold weather is to blame for flu season, not the cold weather itself. Flu season also coincides with the beginning of a new school year when millions of children are in close quarters.
Myth: "Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever"
Whether it's "starve a fever, feed a cold" or "starve a cold, feed a fever," you shouldn't do the extreme of either when you're treating an illness. Eating can help boost your immune system by providing nutrition and energy, but forcing yourself to eat can make you nauseous. The best advice is this: If you're hungry, eat; if you're not hungry, don't. But always stay hydrated. Take this one for what it is: an old wives' tale.
Myth: There's No Way to Reduce the Flu's Duration or Severity
Most get-well-quick schemes are bogus, but here's one that actually works: antiviral medication. It prevents the flu virus from reproducing, thereby minimizing symptoms and shortening the flu's duration. It is available by prescription from a medical doctor. For this medicine to be effective, it has to be taken immediately--within 48 hours of noticing symptoms. After 48 hours, antivirals have been shown to be ineffective against the flu virus. So if you're feeling ill, get to your doctor's office immediately!
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