Mothers are celebrated (if sometimes vilified) for their eagerness to advise
their children on matters big and small: how to behave, what to wear, whom to
marry, when to have kids ... and, oh yes, how to stay healthy during cold and
Does science back up what Dr. Mom told you about the common cold? Or was she
full of hot air? Here's what real doctors have to say about 10 familiar
Myths about the flu are everywhere. According to many experts, misconceptions and rumors about the flu are as hard to contain and as hard to fight as the virus itself.
“There are urban myths and rural myths about the flu,” says William Schaffner, MD, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn. “Flu myths are everywhere.”
Unfortunately, flu myths are common even among the people who should know better, like health care workers...
Mom was right on this one. Colds commonly spread when we touch someone or
something that harbors cold-causing viruses and then infect ourselves by
touching our nose or eyes. Hand washing is great at eliminating these viruses
before they sicken us (and before we spread them to others).
Hand sanitizers work well, as does plain old soap and water (no need for
antibacterial soap). The key is to wash thoroughly -- and regularly.
"Hand washing is part of the routine in my home," says William Schaffner,
MD, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt Medical
School in Nashville, Tenn. "The first thing we do after coming home is hang up
our jackets, and then we wash our hands."
Be aware that cold viruses can survive on objects for several hours --
perhaps overnight, says infectious disease specialist J. Owen Hendley, MD,
professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia Health System in
2. "Have a little chicken soup, dear."
Seems mother may have been on to something with this one, too. Limited
research suggests that it can be helpful. A University of Nebraska study shows
that traditional chicken soup "may contain a number of substances with
beneficial medicinal activity."
What's more, the hot vapors rising from a bowl of broth help open a stuffy
nose, and consuming liquid of any kind helps keep you hydrated.
Anything else? Chicken soup may melt your malaise simply by reminding you of
the love of a devoted parent. "If chicken soup makes you feel better, use it,"