The Common Cold: Debunking The Myths

Roughly once a year – or more, when you’re a child – it’s to be expected that we’ll pick up a common cold that is going around. It’s generally seen as a minor irritation and one that shouldn’t really get in the way of much, but in truth, the common cold can be a highly unpleasant experience and it’s one that should be treated with caution. As we grow up, we learn a lot of things about the cold, and it’s surprising how many of them are absolutely untrue. So let’s take a look at the myths and reality of the common cold, and try to make sure we don’t make poor decisions based on faulty information.


Myth: The cold is caused by getting cold and wet


It’s easy to see how this myth can be believed, not least because colds are particularly common in the colder months of the year. But no, it’s not true. Being physically cold, even if you are also soaked to the bone in a rainstorm, does not increase your chances of getting a cold. The cold is a virus, and it is transmitted from person to person. In the case of the common cold, 50% of such cases are caused by a rhinovirus, which particularly thrives in cold weather. Add to this the fact that we are more likely to be in crowded spaces in winter, and it’s easy to see how transmission happens.


Myth: You can cure the cold


Like a virus, the cold is not something that settles into your system and lives there for a time. It is fought by your immune system and it will go away, but it inevitably needs to run its course. For the duration of a cold, you’re best off concentrating on symptom relief, such as lowering inflammation of the nasal passages and soothing any aches it causes – ibuprofen helps with both of these. 


Prevention is a surer bet than “cure”, so try to make sure you are sleeping enough, avoiding stress, and getting the right foods and juices. One of the key red pepper benefits is a boost to the immune system, so try to include this useful veg in any healthy living efforts. Additionally, wash your hands regularly to avoid picking up the germ that causes colds.


Myth: Chicken soup is a secret weapon against colds


Now, let’s get one thing clear right now: if you have a cold, chicken soup is an excellent idea and will help you feel better. Let’s also make clear that it doesn’t have any particular magic powers – it’s simply a good way of getting fluids into your system and therefore breaking up congestive mucus. Use plenty of black pepper, garlic, and some greens in the making of the soup, and you’ll also reduce inflammation. However, this is also true of minestrone, or cheddar and broccoli, or French onion soup. Chicken soup is widely recognized as comfort food, which may explain why it’s been elevated to this magical status. And, well, let’s face it: there’s nothing wrong with a little comfort when you’re under the weather.


Nobody enjoys having a cold, and it’s natural that we want to be rid of it the moment we get it. But if you have one, the best thing to do is make sure you get the rest and nutrition you need and avoid passing it on – because you’re not going to make it leave before it’s time!

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