Last updated: February 19. 2013 11:31PM - 135 Views

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Nobody wants the common cold as a guest, but the upper respiratory infection keeps knocking at the door, never more frequently than during the winter holiday season. Here's a look at common myths and how best to prevent and fight colds:



Colds are caused by cold weather: No, they are caused by viruses. However, you might be more susceptible to colds in the winter months because you tend to go indoors in crowded environments where you are more likely to pick up other people's viruses. Plus, there are some strains of cold viruses that thrive in the cold, and cold weather can dry out your sinuses, making them more vulnerable to infection.



You can catch a cold by going outside with wet hair or damp clothes. No, but being wet can weaken your immune system, which makes it more likely that you can catch a cold.



It's easy to spot a cold: No, it can be challenging to diagnose because there's a lot of overlap among upper respiratory infections. Untreated allergies can lead to colds, and colds can be a breeding ground for bacterial infections. You can help your doctor distinguish between an allergy and cold by telling him or her if you get your symptoms consistently at specific times of year when certain allergens might be in play.



The best cure is vitamin C: No, there's no proof that vitamin C helps, but vitamins C and B-12 have fans among medical professionals, and they can't hurt.


Some experts strongly recommend zinc lozenges, but because of divergent studies, the National Institutes of Health only asserts zinc lozenges might be useful ... as a treatment option.


In contrast, studies show that good old chicken soup, which seems to have anti-inflammatory properties, might reduce the length and severity of colds. Drinking lots of fluids, gargling with salt water and breathing warm, humidified air that moistens your sinuses can help, too, by easing congestion.



— MCT Information Services




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