Debunking Winter Illness Myths


Cold and flu season is upon us
We all dread cold and flu season and the seemingly endless parade of illnesses that march through our households. Along with these cold and flu viruses come a variety of information – sometimes accurate and sometimes less-than-factual.

Dr. Elizabeth Velazquez, a family practice physician at St. Elizabeth Physicians, sees countless illness all year long. She weighs in on the most common winter illness myths she encounters in her family practice:

  1. The flu vaccine does not give you the flu.
  2. Going outside without a coat or hat will not give you the flu.
  3. Most upper respiratory infections do not need antibiotics.

“The majority of coughs, colds, sinus pressure and sore throats are viral,” says Dr. Velazquez. “Antibiotics will not help and could even affect your ability to use those antibiotics for future illnesses.”

She also reinforces that the flu virus is passed from person to person, not by the flu vaccine, cold air or not dressing warmly enough for the weather.

Quick tips for staying healthy this winter
No one wants to be sidelined by a cold, flu or virus this winter. Follow these tips to help keep you and your family healthy:

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  2. Get your flu shot – it will help prevent specific strains of the flu.
  3. Eat a healthy diet – Dr. Velazquez suggests incorporating vitamin C-dense foods like fresh fruit and vegetables into your daily diet.
  4. Sleep – make getting restful sleep each night a priority.
  5. Quit smoking – it will help lower your risk of illness.

Suggestions if you are sick
If you are currently sick, Dr. Velazquez suggests the following tips:

  1. Give it time – many viruses can run from 3-7 days. It’s difficult and frustrating to be ill for that long, but also normal.
  2. Rest – sleep as much as you can. This helps your body use energy to fight off the illness.
  3. Hydrate – fluids, fluids and more fluids.
  4. Over-the-counter medication and home remedies – these will help relieve symptoms such as congestion, sore throat, headache and body aches.

If your symptoms are worsening, you are running a continuous high fever or your illness has last longer than 10 days, call your physician to be checked out.

St. Elizabeth Physicians can help
If you need a primary care doctor, please call (800) 737-7900 to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified physicians. We’ve got you covered during cold and flu season – and every other season of life.