Seems like there are as many myths about colds as there balled up tissues on your kid's nightstand. And weeding through the fiction to figure out what's fact is probably the last thing you want to do when everyone is cranky and under the weather. Save some research and check out this quick guide to separating common-cold fact from fiction.
1) True or False: You'll catch a cold by going outside without a jacket or hat!
We know you'll say anything to get your kid to keep a hat on his head, but sorry, this myth is simply not true. The only way to catch a cold is by picking up a virus. Being cold will not give you a cold. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
, it's true that colds tend to be more common in the colder-weather seasons, but it's because children are in school, indoors more and in closer contact with each other, which allows the virus to spread more easily—not because of the temperature outside.
2) True or False: Kids get more colds than adults.
Unfortch, this one is totally true. According to the Mayo Clinic, children—especially preschoolers—can get up to 6 to 10 colds annually. And some colds can linger for as long as two weeks! (So much for those sick days!) By contrast adults get two to four colds a year, on average, and the duration is shorter.
3) True or False: Feed a cold, starve a fever. (Or is it starve a cold and feed a fever?)
Now here's a recommendation we can get onboard with. Turns out you should feed a cold and
feed a fever, according to the American Lung Association
. Eating small, nutritious meals and snacks promotes heat, which helps produces proteins that fight virus reproduction. And to create that needed heat, the body needs calories to burn. So everyone should eat when sick!
4) True or False: The best treatment for a cold is antibiotics.
Absolutely false. In fact, antibiotics can make your child's cold worse. Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria, and colds come from viruses (over 200 different ones!). According to the National Institutes of Health
, antibiotics can actually kill off the good bacteria that your kid needs to help fight off a viral infection.
5) True or False: There's no way to prevent my kids from getting so many colds.
Not true. Colds are inevitable, but there are a few things you can do to keep them to a minimum. The Mayo Clinic
suggests encouraging your kids to wash their hands regularly with hot water and soap and to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. You can also wash their toys frequently. Encourage your child to cough or sneeze in the bend of his elbow if they don't have a tissue. And don't share utensils or drinking glasses, which spreads cold viruses and other harmful bacteria. Finally, try to avoid playmates who are sick.
6) True or False: Vitamin C, echinacea and zinc help relieve cold symptoms or help prevent a cold from occurring.
Expert opinions on vitamins and supplements to relieve cold symptoms vary. If you think it might help, talk to your pediatrician to see if they're right for your kid.