We’ve all heard people say not to go outside with wet hair because you’ll catch a cold. But is it true?
There are many myths about the common cold – how you catch it, how you keep it at bay and how you treat it if you do get it.
To demystify the myths, you must first understand what the cold is and what it is not. The cold is a virus. It is not a bacterium. Therefore antibiotics will not work on a cold. There are many different viruses that can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses, a type of cold virus, are the most common. Viruses that cause colds can spread from infected people to others through the air or through close personal contact, such as shaking hands with someone who has a cold or touching a doorknob that has viruses on it and then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
Nevertheless, debunking the myths isn’t easy, especially since some old wives’ tales never seem to go away. But there may be a hint of science behind some of the myths. Let’s take a look.
Feed a cold, starve a fever. Eating may give you a boost of energy to help your immune system fight the infection, but there is no evidence that it will lessen the symptoms you are experiencing. No appetite? Staying hydrated may also help you feel better as you replenish fluids lost from a fever or a runny nose.
Eat chicken soup. Speaking of feeding a cold, does chicken soup really work? Some studies show there may be medicinal values in the popular cold remedy. In general, hot fluids help increase the movement of nasal mucus and thereby may offer some relief. Warm beverages, such as tea or hot water, may do the same, but chicken soup has added nutrients.
Stay out of drafts. Don’t sit by a drafty window. The cold air alone cannot cause you to catch a cold, but the body may be more susceptible to viruses under those conditions.
Going outside with wet hair. While a breeze may make you feel chilly when your hair is wet, it will not contribute to you catching a cold.
Onions and garlic as defenders. Placing an onion near your bed while sleeping or rubbing your skin with garlic will not help ward off the cold or help you get better faster. Consuming garlic, which has a key ingredient called allicin, purportedly helps blocks enzymes that facilitate colds and the flu. But it’s unclear whether it’s more beneficial to eat garlic before or during a bout with the cold.
Colds are more common in the winter largely because the weather drives people indoors to sometimes small, stuffy or unventilated rooms where germs can easily jump from one person to the next. The best defense is staying away from people who are sick and washing your hands often with soapy water.