common cold

5 Common Cold Myths and Misconceptions

The common cold is the scourge of people everywhere. It’s hard to keep away from it, because there are so many strains in so many places. It’s also difficult to prevent and alleviate the common cold, as I know all too well this week after having spent a week working from bed. UGH! Cold and flu season are dreadful and I find as a person with Crohn’s Disease I really have to take extra precautions to not get sick.

There are so many myths surrounding colds. Will you get a cold if you don’t wear a hat? What if you catch a chill? Here are just a few of the cold myths and misconceptions and why they do or don’t hold water.

common cold
The common cold can make you feel hideous.

5 Common Misconceptions About Colds

The common cold is one of those things that people will try to prevent and cure by any means necessary. When you feel so poorly that you are confined to bed, it can seem like everyone has an idea on how to get rid of the common cold. In fact when you feel crappy enough, if someone told you to cover yourself in pine needles and honey and do a rain dance to get rid of the symptoms well you might be tempted to follow through.

Alright maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but there are several cold myths and misconceptions I wouldn’t be surprised to find that one floating around somewhere.


So What’s True and What’s Not?

No Coat or Hat = Getting Sick

This is 100% untrue. While this is one we’ve all heard throughout our lives, it just isn’t so. The common cold is caused by various viruses, not by temperature. Although they do circulate during cold weather, a coat and hat are not a barrier against the common cold. However, if you stress your immune system too much by wearing wet footwear and generally not taking care of yourself then yes that can lead to illness. Don’t stress your immune system.

Vicks VapoRub in Your Socks

While many stand by putting VapoRub on the feet to help ease the common cold, there is no proof that this actually works. This is a myth which began around 2007 due to a widely circulated email claiming that VapoRub on the feet was a miracle cure recognized by the “Canada Research Council”. The real National Research Council of Canada issued a statement to the contrary.

Wet Hair Makes You Sick

Again, the common cold is cause by viruses. The dampness of your hair has nothing to do with it, unless you somehow become hypothermic. Hypothermia can make you susceptible to infections, but that’s just about the only way wet hair could make you sick. However, it is common sense to not go out in the cold with soaking wet hair. In Canada cold hair outdoors in winter freezes and that’s pretty icky.

Wear Garlic to Prevent Colds

The chances of wearing garlic preventing the common cold are just about as good as preventing a vampire attack. While garlic is rich in antioxidants, you have to eat it to get those benefits. Wearing it will only make you a stinky pariah. I always boost my garlic in recipes during cold and flu season instead. As a nutritional force it can’t be disregarded. But wearing garlic has no impact on a cold.

Echinacea and Zinc Prevent the Common Cold

Both zinc and echinacea are touted as being common cold busters, but research has shown no conclusive evidence to support this. This is an example of good marketing. However vitamin C, zinc and echinacea can lessen severity or length of illness so it is worth keeping some on hand.

No Magic Bullet for the Common Cold

Although it would be SO nice, there is no magic bullet for the common cold. You can fight it, but not by wearing garlic or knit headgear. The best way to fight the common cold is by washing hands frequently, staying hydrated, and getting adequate physical activity. So skip the garlic and the gooey feet, they won’t help you fight the common cold. Here’s a cute video about colds.
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Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.

One Comment

  • Elizabeth Matthiesen

    I agree the best way to prevent a cold is to wash your hands frequently and try to avoid others who do have a cold.