myths about the common cold

We put some of the most common cold season myths to the test because when it comes to taking care of a sick kid, you want facts not fiction.


Feed a cold, starve a fever. Or is it the other way around? And what about those wet heads in winter? Find out what's fact and what's fiction when it comes to the common cold.

You'll catch a cold by going outside without a jacket or hat!

Sorry, Mom and Dad, but not true. The only way to catch a cold is by picking up a virus. Being cold will not give you a cold. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) acknowledges that colds tend to be more common in the colder-weather seasons, fall and winter, because children are in school, indoors more, and in closer contact with each other, making the virus more easily spread.

Kids get more colds than adults.

This is true. According to the Mayo Clinic, children, especially of preschool age can get up to six to ten colds annually, and some colds can linger for as long as two weeks. By contrast adults get two to four colds a year, on average, and the duration is shorter.

I feed a cold and starve a fever. (Or is it starve a cold and feed a fever?)

Feed! Feed a cold, feed a fever, says the American Lung Association. Eating small, nutritious meals and snacks promotes heat, which helps produces proteins that fight virus reproduction. And to create that needed heat, the body needs calories to burn. Young and old should eat when they're sick.

The best treatment for a cold is antibiotics.

Absolutely wrong. In fact, antibiotics can make your child's cold worse. Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria, and colds are all virus based (over 200 different types). According to the National Institutes of Health antibiotics can possibly kill off the good bacteria that your child needs to help fight off infection.

There's no way to prevent my kids from getting so many colds.

Not true. There's plenty you can do to minimize the occurrence. Colds are inevitable, but there are a few things you can do to get your child to help. The Mayo Clinic suggests you promote regular hand washing with hot water and soap and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. You can also make sure their toys are clean, by washing them frequently. Encourage your child to cough or sneeze in the bend of their elbow if they can't use a tissue. And don't share utensils or drinking glasses, as this can promote the spread of cold viruses and other harmful bacteria. Also, if you know their siblings or playmates are sick, try to keep them away.

Vitamin C, Echinacea, and zinc help relieve cold symptoms or help prevent a cold from occurring.

There is much disagreement among expert health organizations about the above. Consult your pediatrician if wish to give your child any additional vitamins or supplements.
Important Disclaimer: This information is not meant as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a doctor with questions about your or your child's condition. does not recommend or endorse specific tests, products, procedures, opinions, or other information provided by any sponsors or other third parties. Please also see Terms of Use.
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