Health Brief: 4 Flu Prevention Misconceptions
When it comes to flu prevention, many of us believe in old wives’ tales and health myths. What we believe to be flu prevention tactics may not prevent flu at all, and some of these ideas may actually be harmful to our health! So read on to find out if you are making common flu prevention mistakes and find out how to protect yourself this flu season:
The Flu Vaccine Can Make You Ill
This is one of the most common flu prevention mistakes that people make. It is simply not true that the flu vaccine can make you sick or cause the flu. This myth took hold of the public for two main reasons. First, many people read that the flu vaccine actually contains flu virus. What most people don’t understand is the vaccine only contains dead virus or live virus that is engineered to remove any chance of infection. Secondly, people often mistake the side effects of the vaccine with actual flu symptoms. It is normal to experience side effects including soreness near the injection site, cough, fever, headaches, and fatigue.
Drinking Lots of Orange Juice Boosts Your Immune System
There is little scientific evidence that large doses of vitamin C can prevent sickness. Contrary to popular belief, guzzling lots of vitamin C packed orange juice will not prevent you from coming down with the flu. While drinking fluids can help speed up your recovery from flu, orange juice actually contains a lot of sugar and too much sugar can suppress your immune response. Similarly, taking a mega dose of vitamin C (more than 2,000 mg daily) can cause negative side effects including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and more.
Echinacea and Zinc Will Protect You
Many cold and flu season products include Echinacea (a plant-based herbal remedy) or the mineral Zinc. It is a common belief that both Echinacea and Zinc will prevent or help heal infections faster. However, there is no medical support for these claims. These two items cannot hurt you during flu season and if you believe them to be effective, the “placebo” effect may indeed help you to recover more quickly.
You Should Cover Your Mouth with Your Hand When You Sneeze
We can all agree that it is impolite to cough or sneeze and spread your germs to those around you. However, if you are infected with the flu virus and cough or sneeze into your hands, you will spread the virus when you touch doors, handles, counters and other furnishings. The best thing to do is to cough or sneeze into a tissue. If you do not have a tissue handy, use the crook of your elbow to contain your sneeze. You are much less likely to transfer germs from your elbow to your surroundings.
If you feel like you’re coming down with the flu, set up an online doctor consultation through MeMD. Our physicians can help to diagnose flu symptoms and recommend treatment.