Busted! 4 Old Wives Tales About Mending A Flu

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Because school just started and so did the rainy season, I’m going to teach you a word that is most appropriate for this watery weather: pluviophile.


If as a kid you were a pluviophile like me and loved to get wet in the rain, then I’m assuming your mom also asked you to: “Get back in the house! Do you want to catch a cold?!” That is a common misconception, by the way, that people get sick because of the rain. Nonetheless, mom was right, and I did get sick. But other than drink medicine for cough and cold, mom also had her unorthodox “methods of treatment”.

In this article, we will tackle some of these “methods of treatment”, which are unfortunately are just old wives tales plus a couple more misconceptions about treating a flu.

#1 - There is no treatment for flu


We know that we can cure bacterial infections with antibiotics. Unfortunately, we can’t treat a virus with medicine… right? Not really. There are 2 antiviral medicines that have proven to be effective against flu – the Tamiflu (capsule) and Relenza. However, just to be clear, these drugs do not ‘cure’ the flu, but it significantly lessens the duration of your sickness.

#2 - Feed a cold, starve a fever

feed a cold, starve a fever

This maxim has been traced all the way back to the 16th century, where John Withals notes that, “fasting is a great remedy of fever.” The logic behind this old wives’ tale is that eating more food helps the body generate warmth, while fasting on the other hand, cools it down. This however, has no medical basis. Doctors suggest that it should be, “feed a cold, feed a fever”, because our body will always need energy to fend off any disease.

#3 - You can sweat your way to healthiness by bundling up

bundle up

This is part old wives’ tale, part true. Why? Bundling up and covering yourself with extra clothes does not exactly cure you of the flu. It, however, addresses the symptoms such as fever and coughing. When our mothers ask us to bundle up, they also usually ask us to stick our head over a bowl of hot water to inhale the vapour – that helps unclog the mucous. So, this method still helps, but isn’t a cure per se.

#4 - Vicks VapoRub on your feet and covered with socks

vicks on feet covered with socks

Vicks VapoRub does actually help soothe coughing and a runny nose – but it actually has to be near enough for you to inhale. And how could you do that if the ointment is on your feet? Unless your anatomy is so unique that your feet are actually NOT opposite your nose, then maybe, this could work for you. Other than that, there’s no medical proof, nor has there been a study, that putting Vicks VapoRub on your feet and covering it with socks will actually supress the cough and cold reflex.

There you have it, 4 myths – busted! If there are many more unorthodox healing methods you know of, why not share it with us in the comment section below? We might just be able to compile enough to have a part 2.

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