Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on October 01, 2014


Cold and Flu Health Center, WebMD. Michael Smith, MD. WebMD Chief Medical Editor

© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

WebMD Archive

Video Transcript

Narrator: Myth or fact?I caught a cold because my immune system was weak.

: Buzzer

Michael Smith, MD: No truth in that one. You don't catch a cold because your immune system is weakened. However, if you keep a strong healthy immune system through healthy activities, such as exercise, regular exercise, and a healthy diet, then you may actually get well quicker once you do have a cold.

Narrator: Myth or fact? Vitamin C and zinc prevent colds.

: Buzzer

Michael Smith, MD: That's false. There is no evidence that vitamin C, zinc, another popular one is echinacea, does anything to help prevent a cold. However, once you have a cold, they may, vitamin C at a high dose, zinc, or echinacea, may shorten the duration of your cold.

Narrator: Myth or fact? Eating dairy will increase the mucus of a cold.

: Buzzer

Michael Smith, MD: That's a big myth. Absolutely not true. Nothing you eat is going to cause more mucus. Now, not drinking water could increase your mucus. You become dehydrated, your mucus or your snot gets thicker, more congested, but dairy, nothing to it.

Narrator: Myth or fact? Chicken soup helps fight colds.

: Ding!

Michael Smith, MD: True! Chicken soup isn't going to cure a cold, but it will ease your cold symptoms. Your grandma was right. It helps with congestion. The heat will help soothe the sore throat. It's really great for a cold. So is gargling with saltwater, hot tea, anything warm is going to make your throat feel better and possibly help with congestion as well.

Narrator: Myth or fact? Antibiotics cure colds.

: Buzzer

Michael Smith, MD: No, they don't. Antibiotics have no effect on a cold because a cold is caused by a virus, not a bacteria. Antibiotics only work against bacteria. So you may think that it shortens the duration of your cold, but likely what is happening if you have a cold, is that you are already starting to recover once you start that antibiotic.