Facts vs. Fiction

Antibiotics help you get over colds and the flu more quickly.

FICTION – Colds and flu are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Antibiotics help with bacterial illnesses, they do not help with viral illnesses such as colds or the flu. To reduce your chance of catching a cold or flu, we recommend washing your hands frequently and using Swype to keep the skin around the entrance to your nostrils clean.

Cold and Flu symptoms are similar.

FACT – Both colds and flu can cause nasal congestion, nasal discharge, sore throat, sneezing and cough. Colds cause fever more often in children than adults. The flu is more likely to be associated with high fever, headache, muscle aches, and general malaise.

The most common way you catch a cold or flu is when someone coughs or sneezes near you.

FICTION – While colds are caused by viruses transmitted by coughs/sneezes, the most common mechanism of catching a cold or flu is by transmission of infectious virus particles either through direct hand-to-hand contact (hand shake) with an infected person or by indirect contact with a contaminated object, (like a door knob, grocery cart). Once you have cold or flu virus on your hands, you can become infected with the virus when you touch your nose or eyes (viruses transit the tear duct to the nose).

Complications of viral illnesses such as colds and flu can be life threatening.

FACT – Using weekly national vital statistics from 1972 through 1992, influenza epidemics accounted for 426,000 deaths in the United States (Uptodate.com)

The last flu pandemic was in 2009-2010.

FACT – First appearing in the spring of 2009, the H1N1 (swine flu) virus spread quickly across the U.S. and the world. Eleven days after the first U.S. diagnosis the government declared a public health emergency. A month and a half after the first diagnosis, 18,000 cases had been reported in the U.S.. Roughly 6 months after the first U.S. diagnosis, 61 million vaccine doses were ready, which minimized the impact of the illness. On August 10, 2010 the end of the global H1N1 pandemic was declared. A total of 74 countries and between 43-89 million people were affected by the pandemic.

Your doctor can prescribe an oral antiviral medication to shorten the duration of a cold.

FICTION – Oral antiviral medications are not effective at reducing the chance you catch a cold or reducing the duration of cold symptoms.

Flu and cold season is specific to geographic location around the globe and peaks in the winter months.

FACT – Both colds and flu occur more commonly during the winter months in both the northern and southern hemispheres. However, it is still possible to catch a cold or flu at any time of the year.

There is one virus which causes colds and one which causes the flu.

FICTION – Colds are caused by many different viruses, each of which have many different serotypes. This is why medications are ineffective at preventing colds. The flu is primarily caused by 2 main viruses: Human Influenza Virus A & B, of which there are also many different serotypes, including Avian and Swine flu.

Darker mucus means you have a bacterial infection.

FICTION – The darker mucus is natural and doesn’t necessarily mean you have developed a bacterial infection.

The first three days you have a cold symptom you are contagious.

FACT – You can pass a cold or flu to others during the first three days so avoid contact with others as much as possible and get some TLC & rest.

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