News / Health

Think You Know All About the Common Cold? Think Again

According to medical experts, it is normal for young children to catch cold four to five times a year
According to medical experts, it is normal for young children to catch cold four to five times a year

Multimedia

Ayesha Khalid

Do you believe cold temperatures can cause cold?  Do you think it’s a bad idea to give milk to a child who has a cold? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, then this report is for you.

Cold weather and colds are so closely linked in our minds that it’s usually hard to tell which came first.

Ben Hemmens is the father of three children, including four-year-old Sophie.  According to medical experts, it is normal for kids around this age to catch cold four to five times a year. In adults, the ratio is about two or three times a year.  

Still, says Dr. Ranit Mishori, of Georgetown University Hospital, many people believe it’s possible to become immune to colds.  Unfortunately, she says, that’s not the case. “There are about 200 different viruses that cause the common cold and people think that once you get infected one time you develop immunity for the rest of your life. This is wrong,” she said.

There are many other common beliefs about colds that medical science does not support.

How many of us believe the main cause of the common cold is exposure to cold temperatures? Even some studies have shown that people get sick more frequently during the winter.

But Dr. Mishori says it is not because of the cold weather. “It’s because people tend to congregate and be together and the way the common cold virus is transmitted from one person to another is through handshake, through sneezing, or through coughing on one another."

While there is no actual cure for the common cold, Dr. Mishori says there are still a few things you can do to help reduce its duration and intensity.

Though the medical community says Vitamin C does not help prevent colds, there is definitely some proof that it helps keep them from being as bad.

“So if you catch a cold and on day one you start taking about two grams of Vitamin C a day there is evidence that it might shorten the number of days that you will be suffering with these symptoms,” Dr. Mishori stated.

In addition, medical science says honey and chicken soup are effective against colds.  Especially honey.  “There is increased evidence that it helps shorten the duration of the common cold sometimes even by two to three days particularly in children,” Dr. Mishori said. “Chicken soup has anti inflammatory properties so it helps reduce the duration of the cold but it also helps clear the mucus.”

There’s also a common belief that you should “feed a cold and starve a fever.”  Dr Mishori says… not necessarily.” “If you do have a cold and you don’t feel like eating anything it’s not going to hurt you but you have to drink a lot and you can drink water or tea anything that gets fluids into your body,” she said. “That’s very important.”

So… if drinking fluids is a good idea …. What about milk?

Nadine Audrey, the Hemmens kids’ grandmother, believes it’s not a good idea to give milk to a child who has a cold. “I will never give milk to a child who has got bad phlegm. My son had this problem and he will throw up when I will give him milk,” she said.

Well, says Dr. Mishori, maybe and maybe not. “Dairy products do not cause increased secretions but they can thicken the secretions,” she explained. “It’s possible that discomfort is somewhat more enhanced but obviously if you are a baby and it’s all you drink then you should not stop giving babies milk.”

There are many other myths about colds that do not pass scientific muster.  Doctors say the best advice is to continue using whatever works best for you.  Even if it doesn’t make the cold better, it won’t make it worse either - while you wait for the cold to just run its natural course.

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