Myths and Misconceptions About the Flu

Just like the flu virus spreads each year, misconceptions and myths about this illness have spread throughout the world over time. While many are harmless, some myths can actually lead to greater illness and increased effects of the flu. The following are several long-standing myths about the flu:

  • The flu vaccine causes flu. This is incorrect. The virus used to make the vaccine is killed during the process and cannot infect you. Note: the flu nasal mist vaccine does contain live, but weakened virus and may cause a mild flu-like reaction. 
  • You can catch the flu (or a cold) from going outside during winter. Incorrect. Being in cold weather will not cause the flu. It is caused by being infected by the flu virus.
  • Feed a cold and starve a fever. Incorrect. Food intake has little to do with the flu. Liquids, however are very important. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids while suffering from flu symptoms. 
  • December or January are too late to get a flu vaccine. Incorrect. While it is recommended that you get the vaccine as early as possible during flu season, getting the shot in December, January or later can still protect you through the end of the traditional flu season in April. 
  • Wash with only antibacterial soap. Incorrect. Influenza is a virus, not bacteria. You should was with regular soap often, many times a day to protect yourself and others. 
  • “Stomach flu.” No such thing. The flu is a respiratory infection or disease not an intestinal disease. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can be caused by any number of bacteria or virus, but are not symptoms of influenza. 
  • Only rest will do. Incorrect. People have said for centuries that when you get the flu the only thing you can do is get rest and wait it out. Antiviral drugs have been proven to lessen the effects of the flu and shorten the duration of your illness. The key is to get these drugs within the first 2 days of becoming ill.

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