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Flu Myths: 6 Common Flu Beliefs Busted

Martin Prescott- Getty Images

Everybody is talking about the flu. I thought it was kind of overkill until I started reading actual medial stats that show just how many people are getting it this year.  There are a bunch of things you’ve probably heard about the flu, but what’s true and what’s not so true?  Glad you asked because I’ve got the answers!

Myth: If You’ve Already Had Your Shot, You Are Guaranteed To Be Flu-Free Fact: Unfortunately, even after slapping a bandage on that injection site, you may only be about 60 percent protected, according to the CDC. That means, yes, you can still get the flu after your shot. Some people may be exposed to the flu in the two weeks it takes for the vaccine to take effect, reports NPR. Others might be exposed to a strain not covered in the vaccine, which is made each year based on the viruses experts predict will be the most common, according to Flu.gov. (This year’s batch seems to have been matched well to what is actually going around, NPR reports.)

Myth: Antibiotics Can Fight The Flu Fact: Plain and simply, antibiotics fight bacteria, not viruses. The flu — and colds, for that matter — are caused by viruses. In fact, antibiotics kill off the “good” bacteria that help to fight off infections, so that viral flu may only get worse.

Myth: The Stomach Flu Is A Type Of Influenza Fact: Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, while often dubbed the “stomach flu,” are not typically symptoms of seasonal influenza, which, first and foremost, is a respiratory disease, according to Flu.gov. The flu can sometimes cause these issues, but they won’t usually be the main symptoms — and are more common signs of seasonal flu in children than adults.

Myth: If You’re Young And Healthy, You Don’t Need The Shot Fact: Younger, healthy adults aren’t among the people the CDC urges most strongly to get vaccinated, like pregnant women, people over 65 and those with certain chronic medical conditions. The young and healthy will more often than not recover just fine from the flu, with or without the shot. But protecting yourself even if you don’t think you need protecting can actually be an act of good. The more people are vaccinated, the fewer cases of flu we all pass around, which in turn offers greater protection to those at-risk groups.

Myth: You Can Get The Flu From Being In The Cold Without A Coat (Or With Wet Hair) Fact: Mom or Grandma probably told you this one at some point, and while you might not feel so cozy if you head out the door straight from the shower, doing so doesn’t exactly condemn you to bed. The only way to catch the flu is to come into contact with the virus that causes it. That might happen while you are outside in the cold, and flu season does certainly happen during cold weather, but it’s not because you’re cold that you catch the bug.

Myth: There’s No Treatment For The Flu Fact: It’s not antibiotics that cure-seekers should be looking for. While the two antiviral drugs available to fight the flu aren’t a quick fix, they can reduce the length of your bout of the flu and make you less contagious to others, according to WebMD. This year’s earlier-than-usual flu season has already led to shortages of one of the drugs, Tamiflu, in the children’s liquid formulation, according to the medication’s manufacturers. However, a number of experts in countries around the world have questioned Tamiflu’s efficacy in fighting the flu, and some have even suggested a boycott until further data is published.

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