Medical myths are an internet phenomenon that unfortunately just won’t go away. Most of us were told from an early age not to believe everything we read, but medical claims found on the web can often seem believable. In an effort to stop the spread of these inaccuracies, here are three particularly pervasive medical myths we’ve debunked.
The claim: “Vitamin C will prevent a cold.”
Explanation: Vitamin C is found in foods such as citrus fruits, green vegetables, and tomatoes. Our bodies don’t produce vitamin C, so we must consume it through our diet or by taking supplements. Physicians agree that vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients. However, despite popular belief, researchers reviewed over a decade’s worth of findings and concluded that mega-doses of vitamin C do not prevent colds. Vitamin C does have various health benefits, such as protecting against immune system deficiencies and decreasing the likelihood of developing prenatal health problems. It also helps maintain healthy skin. Will chugging a carton of orange juice prevent the common cold, though? Physicians say: probably not.
The claim: “Skip the flu shot because it causes the flu.”
Explanation: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu shot does not cause the flu. The CDC reports that flu shots given with needles contain viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious. Thus, you cannot actually get the flu from the flu shot. Some people may experience redness, soreness, or tenderness where the vaccine was administered. Less common side effects are a low-grade fever, headache, or muscle aches. It’s important for most people to get vaccinated, as the flu virus can be deadly—especially among the elderly.
The claim: “Starve a fever, feed a cold.”
Explanation: Researchers have found that limiting caloric consumption can do more potential harm to your immune system than help. Antioxidants in food help to keep your immune system strong, and your body actually burns more calories when you have a fever. If you don’t eat, you won’t be taking in enough nutrients to keep your energy up, and you may even begin to feel worse. Thus, it’s important to eat healthy and drink lots of fluids during colds and fevers.