4 Myths about Common Winter Colds
Written By: Emma Squillace
It’s winter, and that means you’ll see more people walking around sneezing, coughing, and asking for hot tea. While the medical field has made amazing advancements in innovative treatments, one thing we still can’t do is cure the common cold! However, often we see patients who thought they had a cold, but actually were suffering from allergies or other ear, nose, or throat conditions. Today we’ll cover several myths we hear often about colds, to clear up common confusions.
Myth 1: You can get a cold from forgetting your coat or going outside with wet hair.
Did your parents yell at you for leaving the house without a warm enough coat, or for trying to go outside with wet hair? If you were warned these choices would bring on a cold, you’re not alone. However, going outside in the cold, even with wet hair, will not make you sick. A cold is caused by a virus, and being cold outside does not make you more susceptible to catching a virus.
Myth 2: Allergies aren’t prevalent in the winter, so if you’re sneezing it’s probably a cold.
Even though winter is notoriously ‘cold season,’ that doesn’t mean we get a break from allergies. Many people suffer from seasonal allergies, and these can be strong during the winter as well. We don’t have as much pollen, but other allergens take their place. For instance, often people suffer more from dust and mold allergies in the cold weather. Turning on your heater can result in particles circulating through your home. If you think you’ve had a cold for more than two weeks, there’s a chance it’s allergies instead. The only way to know is to see an allergy doctor, like the experts at West Medical. Unlike a cold, allergies can be treated and we have a range of successful options from daily drops to injections.
Myth 3: You’re most likely to catch a cold if someone sneezes or coughs near you.
It seems intuitive: someone who sneezes or coughs on you is going to give you a cold. And while it’s true that you can certainly catch a cold that way, some studies show that you’re even more likely to catch a cold from shaking someone’s hand, or touching them. Washing your hands frequently is the best defense against catching a cold. Although hand sanitizer is convenient and useful, it is not as good as a wash with plain-old soap and water.
Myth 4: An untreated cold can turn into the flu.
Your parents may have warned you about this myth also, but don’t worry… a cold cannot turn into the flu. A cold and flu are caused by different viruses. One condition that can develop from a cold is sinusitis. This is an inflammation of the sinuses, and can be chronic in some people. While a cold can only be ‘treated’ with rest, lots of fluids, and maybe a bowl of chicken soup, sinusitis can be treated. If you believe you have chronic sinusitis, get in touch with us. We offer safe and successful treatments such as a balloon sinuplasty.
At West Medical, our ENT experts see many patients with symptoms from coughs to runny noses to watery eyes. If you’ve got a typical winter cold, there’s not much we can do other than tell you to rest and drink liquids. However, if your nasal symptoms are caused by allergies, sinusitis, sleep apnea, or other medical conditions we treat, we may be able to give you back your health. The first step is to come in and get diagnosed, so we can explain your treatment options. If you’d like to talk to our experts, give us a call today at (855) 690-0565.