Sneezing Light on Flu Season Myths
I have a cold, which is freaking annoying.
More annoying than the symptoms however, is the advice from literally everyone I know about how to feel better.
About ten minutes ago I said to myself, “If one more person thrusts an Emergen-C packet in my face I swear I will
scream angrily blog about it.” So I suppose you can guess what just happened.
“That is what you get for getting a flu shot.”
I was rather vocal this year about getting a flu shot. Several of my acquaintances suggested that my cold is related to the fact that I got the flu shot.
The flu shot will not make you sick. The shot contains either inactivated vaccine viruses or no actual vaccine viruses, but neither will make you sick. The flu shot takes a few weeks to work and so if you do get sick immediately after it could be that 1- the vaccine has not had a chance to work and you got the flu anyway 2- you got a viral infection with flu-like symptoms, 3- the flu you got was a different strain from those selected when the vaccine was made, or 4- if you have a weak immune system the flu shot may not be enough to prevent you from getting it. Which is why everyone else who is healthy needs to get it so that we can help protect those more vulnerable to it.
“Here, try this [insert homeopathic pills here].“
Just, no. (If you think I should have belabored this one I really encourage you to click on that link.)
“Are you taking/did you take Vitamin C?“
This is very unlikely to do anything. There have been studies that suggest that taking Vitamin C may have a tiny effect on the duration of a cold, but the evidence is by no means concrete and the consensus is that there exists no cure or prevention for the common cold.
And yes, this means that Airborne and Emergen-C are as ineffective as they are gross. Even if you like the taste they are still ineffective.
So what does work?
Steve wrote this great post about it a little while ago and it is a great thing to send to people pontificating about the crap they either “heard from their friend,” or “read on the internet.” It actually even puts me in a position to out-pontificate them because Steve is my friend who writes for the internet and he is also a real doctor so you can suck on my argument from authority.
Basically there is nothing you can do except alleviate some of your symptoms, but in the spirit of unsolicited advice, here is some from me to prevent getting sick this year: 1- go get your damn flu shot (it isn’t too late) and 2- wash your damn hands, because seriously, if you don’t, you are even more gross than a packet of grape-flavored Emergen-C.
Image by James Gathany (CDC Public Health Image library ID 11162) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons