Should I feed a cold and starve a fever? Or is it the other way around? Does chicken soup actually cure the common cold? And I had a flu shot last year – I’m good for another nine or ten years, right? Cold and flu season has snuck up on us once again, so it’s time to test your cold and flu I.Q. with the following ten-question quiz. You’ll find the answers at the end – but no peaking!
1. The flu vaccine is more dangerous than the actual flu?
2. Common flu symptoms include:
c. Aches and pains
d. All of the above
3. The common cold and the flu are basically the same thing.
4. Methods for preventing colds and the flu include:
a. Washing hands
b. Regular physical activity
c. A food diet rich in phytochemicals including dark leafy green, red and yellow fruits and vegetables
d. All of the above
5. Only the sick and elderly need the flu shot:
6. Which of the following are effective treatments for the common cold?
b. Cough suppressants and decongestants
c. Bed rest
d. Both b and c
7. You should see a doctor if you experience
a. Severe chest pain
b. Persistent fever, coughing, or soar throat
c. Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
d. All of the above
8. The flu is spread:
a. Through respiratory droplets passed through the air
b. Through contact with doorknobs, handrails, and keyboards
c. Both a and b
d. None of the above
9. There is no cure for the flu:
10. Side effects of the flu shot can include:
a. Kidney and liver malfunction
b. Local soreness where the shot is administered
c. High blood pressure or stroke
1. False. While the shot does not guarantee you’ll be flu-free throughout the season, for most people, the flu vaccine is an effective safeguard against predicted flu strains. There are some risks associated with the flu shot. For example if you’re allergic to eggs, the shot might present some hazards. In addition, the shot may contain trace amounts of mercury, which is added as a preservative. Talk to your doctor about whether or not the flu shot is right for you. And check out this video from WebMD on The Truth About Flu Vaccines.
2. True. Fever, coughs, aches and pains – all of these are flu symptoms, as well as congestion, fatigue, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
3. False. While cold and flu symptoms are similar, their severity differs greatly. The common cold is a relatively minor irritation, compared to the flu, which kills up to 49,000 people annually.
4. All of the above (d). Additional recommended cold/flu avoidance strategies include:
- Getting plenty of sleep (7 or more hours each night) and relaxation
- Reducing alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking, as both tend to suppress the immune system
- Refraining from touching the face since cold and flu germs tend to enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth
- Drinking plenty of water (9-13 cups of fluid per day). Dehydration tends to inhibit the immune system’s functioning.
5. False. This was a trick question, actually. While those suffering from chronic illnesses and seniors over the age of 65 are certainly more susceptible to flu viruses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that “Everyone older than 6 months is recommended for flu vaccination with rare exception.” Click here for details on who should get vaccinated for influenza.
6. The answer is d (both b and c [cough suppressants and decongestants, as well as bed rest]). Antibiotics fight bacteria-related illnesses. Colds, however, are caused by viruses. Thus, antibiotics can actually do more harm than good in treating the common cold.
7. The answer is d. All of these symptoms may indicate complications from the flu (such as pneumonia), or another medical condition (such as heart disease, asthma, or strep throat) for which medical treatment is necessary.
8. The answer is c. The flu is spread through respiratory droplets that are passed through the air as well as through germs acquired by contact with infected surfaces. This means that you should generally try to stay away from people who are sick and wash your hands often in order to avoid or minimize exposure to flu germs. A chilling visualization on how cold and flu germs are spread can be seen in this video from Discovery Fit & Health.
9. True. This is another trick question, actually. There is no one antidote for treatment of the flu. The flu is a virus, and there are several antiviral medications on the market (such as Tamiflu and Flumadine) that can shorten the duration of the flu. However, for most people, the flu can be treated naturally with bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids, as well over the counter pain relievers and decongestants. You should check with your doctor for dosages and age restrictions.
10. The answer is b. Most people experience some soreness where the flu shot is administered. A common misconception is that the flu shot cause people to “catch” the flu. In fact, the reason that some people feel slightly under the weather after having the flu shot is that their bodies are busy producing antibodies in response to the vaccine, which sometimes causes general discomfort or weakness. These symptoms generally pass within a day or two and are far less severe than those experienced with the actual flu.
Q: Feed a cold and starve a fever? Or feed a fever and starve a cold?
A: Neither. This is an old wives’ tale. While some foods – warm soup, for example – will make a soar throat feel better, most doctors and nutritionists simply recommend that when you’re sick you should eat healthy and nutrient-dense foods and drink plenty of fluids so as to avoid dehydration.
Q: How long does a flu shot last?
A: Each year, the flu vaccine is updated to address the virus strains most frequently infecting people throughout the world. Therefore, unlike other vaccinations (i.e., measles, tetanus, pneumonia), the flu inoculation is only good for one flu season and should be taken annually.
What’s Next? For me, it’s off to NextCare Urgent Care for my flu shot. Coach Stacy, on the other hand, would rather have a 20-pound dumbbell dropped on her big toe than sustain a flu shot. She wouldn’t mind the flu mist so much, but every doctor’s office and pharmacy she’s called in the Denver metro area has told her that the mist is only for “babies.” Quite frankly, they should just give her the mist since, after all, Coach IS a big baby, at least where needles are concerned. However, as it’s not likely she’ll score the mist anytime soon, she’s focused on eating a healthy food diet, getting plenty of exercise and sleep, and steering clear of germs. Hopefully, the cold and flu bugs won’t find her.
For more information on your best defenses during cold and flu season, log on to the NextCare Urgent Care website.