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


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.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs