QMG Now Physician Dr. Ernest Wallace

Cold and flu season has arrived, bringing with it a resurgence of myths and old wives’ tales regarding remedies and preventions. You may have come across some of these time-honored pieces of advice handed down through generations, but how much truth do they hold? To help us navigate the facts and fiction, we consulted Dr. Ernest Wallace, a physician with QMG Now at Quincy Medical Group.

Starve a cold; feed a fever.

Dr. Wallace said there is no real validity to either side. Instead, he emphasizes the importance of staying healthy through proper nutrition.

“The most important thing is to stay well hydrated with water, and sports drinks are an ok alternative.

Wear a coat or you’ll “catch a chill.”

Contrary to the belief that skipping a coat will lead to catching an illness, Dr. Wallace clarifies that exposure to weather alone doesn’t cause sickness.

“You can’t catch an illness from being outside without a coat or any weather exposure, but maintaining good core body temperature can certainly help maintain normal metabolism and immunity,” he said.

Eat chicken soup to cure a cold.

While chicken soup doesn’t have any “magic healing properties,” Dr. Wallace acknowledges its place in a balanced nutritional intake. The broth can aid in hydration, and including veggies and protein supports a balanced nutritional intake.

Avoid dairy products if you have a gastrointestinal (GI) virus or a cold.

Dr. Wallace reassures that dairy does no harm during a gastrointestinal (GI) illness. While dairy may not be everyone’s first choice, it’s not off-limits.

“Dairy does no harm. It may not be appealing but does no harm,” he said. “With a GI illness, sports drinks, bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast can be staples.  Hydration is the most important thing, and, if dairy sounds good and is tolerated, it’s fine.”

Vitamin C can cure a cold, and gargling with saltwater can cure a sore throat.

Dr. Wallace clarifies that Vitamin C doesn’t cure a cold but can boost the immune system as a preventive measure. As for gargling salt water, it may provide some relief, but not a cure.

“Vitamin C is not curative per se but can help boost the immune system as a preventive measure. It’s better at prevention than once you have an illness and best attained thru dietary sources,” he stated. “Saltwater gargles may feel good but do nothing to cure anything.”

A flu shot can give you the flu.

Addressing the misconception that a flu shot can give you the flu, Dr. Wallace emphasizes that the vaccine contains no live virus, making it impossible to catch influenza from the shot. Any mild symptoms post-vaccination are normal immune responses, not the flu.

He added, “Also don’t confuse vomiting and diarrhea with influenza. Influenza is for the most part a respiratory disease similar to pneumonia or a severe cold or even Covid. The best treatment is prevention with a vaccine annually.”

Treat a fever with cold compresses or a cool bath.

While cool compresses may provide comfort, Dr. Wallace states that acetaminophen or ibuprofen are standard treatments for fever. He advises against immersion in cool baths without doctor recommendations.

Know Where to Go

If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of a cold or flu, our QMG Now team is here seven days a week to see you. To learn more visit, https://quincymedgroup.com/qmgnow/.