Achoo! Exploding Three Myths about the Common Cold

No illness is as universal, or as annoying, as the common cold. Join us as we explore (and explode) three of its famous myths.

Experts tell us most adults get 2-4 colds a year, and that there are at least 200 different microbes that cause them — but there are probably more myths about the common cold than that. Grab your hanky and follow along as we show that, while colds may be nothing to sneeze at, some of the myths about them are.

Myth 1: Feed a cold, starve a fever.

This may be a nice, pithy saying, but there’s no scientific evidence to back it up. The point is probably to get you to eat in the first place, since you’re likely to lose your appetite when you get a cold. What’s more important is getting plenty of fluids. And no, sodas and coffee doesn’t count; you need fluids without caffeine.

Chicken soup really is good for the common cold, though. No one is sure quite why, but it helps clear away mucus from the lungs more effectively than any other fluid — and of course a good, hot meal always makes you feel better.

Myth 2: Getting chilled and damp is certain to result in a cold.

This one seems self-evident, but it’s a case in which your intuition fails you. Numerous scientific studies have proven that being chilled, or even being cold and damp, has no bearing on whether you get a cold. Colds are spread by viruses, and if you catch the virus, you’ll get one no matter how warm you are.

Myth 3: Whiskey and lemon makes an effective cold medicine.

The whiskey and lemon mixture is a classic folk cure for the common cold, and some of us get to enjoy a dollop of honey with it, too. It tastes great — lots better than cold medicine — and it may even make you feel better, in a way. What it won’t do is help your cold.

Well…maybe a little. There’s nothing wrong with the lemon juice, since you need to take in fluids anyhow. Even the honey’s not so bad, because it’s a source of needed calories. However, alcohol has no healing benefits at all, and in fact may dehydrate you.