5 Common Flu Myths
With flu season in full swing, chances are you’ve heard some advice from friends and family on how to avoid getting the flu. There seems to be no shortage when it comes to misinformation being spread about contracting and treating the flu. Read on to learn the truth about these 5 common myths.
1. You can catch the flu from the influenza vaccine
Many patients tend to steer clear of the flu vaccine because they fear becoming sick from it. The flu shot is made from what’s known as an ‘inactivated virus’ — which means it cannot transmit infection.
This is a common myth because patients who tend to fall sick after they receive the vaccine believe it is the vaccine that made them sick. However, it takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to work in your immune system, meaning that you are not instantly protected. If you were exposed to the flu before or shortly after receiving the shot, you can still fall ill.
2. Getting the vaccine is all you need to do to protect yourself
Though we always suggest that each patient should receive an annual flu shot, protecting yourself from the flu doesn’t stop here. It’s important to avoid contact with public spaces such as doorknobs and counters, as well as family and peers who have the flu. Wash your hands properly and frequently, and consider taking anti-viral medication early on if you believe you’ve been exposed to the flu.
3. You can catch the flu from going out in cold weather
While your mother may have advised against going out with a wet head or without a jacket on, the only way to catch the flu is by being directly exposed to it. Often, people assume that the cold brings on the flu because flu season happens to occur during the winter — but, they are not related.
4. Antibiotics can be used to treat a flu-related fever
While antibiotics work well against bacteria, they do not have any effect on the flu or its symptoms. The flu is a virus, known as the influenza virus. However, some patients do develop a secondary bacterial infection as a complication of the flu. In this instance, your doctor may prescribe you an antibiotic if they deem it appropriate.
5. You can’t spread the flu unless you have symptoms
According to Harvard Health, around 20-30% of individuals carrying the flu virus have no symptoms at all. This means that though you may not feel any of the common symptoms of the flu, including a sore throat, fever, and runny nose, you can still pass the virus on to others. Be mindful to keep your hands clean to prevent the spread of germs.