Sometimes, folk wisdom is backed up by scientific evidence. Chicken soup can actually help you recover from a cold, for instance! But in most cases, there’s little to no truth in them. Separating fact from fiction can help keep your family healthier this winter, so read on to bust some winter weather health myths.
Has anyone ever told you not to go outside without a coat, or perhaps with wet hair, because you’ll “catch your death”? There’s a widespread notion that cold weather leads to illness. After all, cold and flu season happens in the winter, so it must have something to do with the temperature, right?
Well, only indirectly. People tend to get sick in the winter because we all spend more time indoors. More people plus less fresh air equals increased chances of trading germs. Dry air can cause your mucus membranes to dry out, making them more susceptible to infection, so stay hydrated and use a humidifier.
And while we’re on the subject, if you or your child is prone to nosebleeds in winter because of the dry air, do not tilt your head back to stop it. That’s actually the worst thing you can do! Pinch your nose until the bleeding stops. An ice pack can help speed up the process.
Have you heard this one? The idea was that you’d warm your body up by eating hot, nutritious foods while suffering from a cold. That’s not a bad idea–as we saw, chicken soup could help you get better faster. But what about this “feed a fever” business?
It wasn’t that long ago that doctors thought they needed to let diseases drain from the body through cuts or even (eek!) leeches. Similarly, some people believed that a fever was a lot like a fire, in that you needed to “starve” it of fuel to get it to stop. However, starving a patient with an infection can lead to dehydration and even weaken their immune system.
This old wives’ tale is used to convince kids to wear hats in winter, but it’s completely untrue. You lose just as much heat through your head as any other part of your body.
In fact, if you have a thick head of hair, you might actually lose less there than other exposed areas. That doesn’t mean you can skip the hat or earmuffs, however.
There are a lot of myths out there about flu shots. Naysayers claim they know someone who got the flu from getting the shot, using the anecdote as evidence that vaccines are just as bad–if not worse–than the illness. Others will state with confidence that flu shots simply don’t work.
The truth is that scientists predict the most likely flu strains to be bad each year and create a vaccine to defend against them. You might still get sick, but you are likely to have less severe symptoms and bounce back faster. Ideally, the flu shot will not only help you and your family avoid getting ill, but it will also prevent you from being able to transmit the virus to other people.