Live BlogThere are many myths about sickness and health like going outside with wet hair makes you sick. As winter approaches and flu season comes with it, it can be difficult to distinguish which of these health rules are true and worth following a
nd which are false. Marcy Ferdschneider, medical director of the NYU Student Health Center, brings truth to the health myths we’ve been believing all these years and gives advice on how to avoid getting sick this winter.
Myth: Going outside with wet hair will make you sick.
Ferdschneider: Exposure to viruses is what causes a cold, not having wet hair. This myth probably relates to the assumption that cold weather, or being cold, has an effect on the susceptibility and course of the common cold. The truth is that during cold weather, people spend more time indoors, which increases the risk of person to person spread. Also, during the colder months there is lower humidity, which improves survival of many of the cold viruses.
Myth: You can catch the flu from a flu shot.
Ferdschneider: This is simply not true. You cannot catch the flu from the flu shot. In fact, the flu vaccine shot or nasal spray, is the best way to prevent the flu. The flu shot is made from an inactivated … form of the virus, so it cannot cause disease. The nasal spray vaccine is made from a live, but weakened form of the virus, which acts locally in the nose but cannot cause the flu.
Myth: Starve a fever, feed a cold.
Ferdschneider: Starving yourself is never a good idea and won’t help a fever, or the underlying cause of the fever. Staying well-nourished and well-hydrated during an illness is one of the keys to a quicker recovery. While it’s true that sometimes when you are sick, with or without a fever, you don’t feel like eating, it is very important that you continue to drink a lot of fluids, so you don’t get dehydrated. Sticking to a well-balanced diet is always important, but more so when you are ill, as the nutrients will help your body fight the infection and will help boost your immune system.
Myth: Food has no effect on whether you will get sick.
Ferdschneider: The best nutrients come from food, not from supplements, and relying on supplements can often limit your general nutrition. Eating certain foods won’t necessarily put you at increased risk for a cold or flu, but there are certain foods that will theoretically help boost your immunity. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, have been shown to have an effect on boosting your body’s ability to fight a cold.
Question: What steps should a student take if he or she starts feeling sick?
Ferdschneider: The best advice I can give is to take steps to prevent a cold or the flu before you start feeling sick. Wash your hands frequently, get enough rest, eat a well-balanced diet and get a yearly flu shot. Once you start feeling sick, make sure that you get enough rest and stay well-hydrated. It’s also important to remember that most colds are caused by viruses, and antibiotics don’t work for viral illnesses and can cause harm by causing side effects and resistance in future infections.
Katya Barannik is deputy features editor. Email her at [email protected]