7 Common Myths About the Flu

The flu is not something anyone should take lightly. And there’s a lot of misinformation surrounding the virus that might affect how people deal with it. Here are seven common myths you shouldn’t believe about the flu.

Myth: Starve a fever

Some people might still believe the old adage: “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” “The belief is that eating food may help the body generate warmth during a ‘cold’ and that avoiding food may help it cool down when overheated” — i.e., during a fever, according to Scientific American.

But medical science disagrees. Eating enough healthy food and getting ample fluids are important anytime you’re sick. Even if you don’t have an appetite, your body needs the nutrition. In fact, when you have a fever, your metabolism is running in overdrive. Thus, you must feed your body to make up for those extra calories it’s burning.

Myth: If I stay out of the cold, I won’t get sick

Woman coughing with a tissue outside in winterCredit: Ridofranz/Getty Images

Yes, flu season does coincide with the colder months of the year. Lower humidity and people spending time indoors in close quarters allow the virus to spread more easily. But being chilled won’t automatically make you sick.

You won’t necessarily come down with the flu just because you forgot to wear a hat on a cold day or went outside with wet hair — though doing so might lower your body’s defenses. Still, you must be exposed to the influenza virus to get the flu. And that might even be more likely in your warm, toasty office rather than the frigid outdoors. “The bottom line is that cold doesn’t cause illness, although weather or other factors may weaken your ability to fight off illness,” according to Healthline.

Myth: You can’t spread the flu if you don’t have symptoms

Maybe your co-workers all have the flu, but you feel fine. That’s lucky for you, but you still could be contagious to others. In fact, “20% to 30% of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms,” according to Harvard Medical School.

So especially if you know you’ve been exposed to the flu, take precautions to avoid spreading it. Wash your hands often, avoid close contact with people, cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze and take care of yourself. A little extra vigilance could make all the difference.

Myth: I don’t have to worry if I’m young and healthy

If you’re young and healthy, your immune system likely has a better chance of fighting off viruses. But that’s no reason not to take flu season seriously. “In the United States alone, 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu,” according to Harvard Medical School.

Maybe the worst that happens to you is you have to spend a couple days home sick from work. But carrying and spreading the virus could have much more serious consequences for others — including hospitalization and even death. So do your part to keep yourself and others healthy.

Myth: The flu vaccine gives you the flu

There are many myths about the flu shot. And one of the most prevalent ones is it can actually make you sick with the flu. That’s false.

“Injectable flu vaccines are composed of pieces of inactivated flu proteins — and it’s impossible for them to ‘cause’ flu,” Mayo Clinic says. “The nasal spray vaccine has live flu organisms weakened so they cannot multiply or cause disease.” Plus, according to Harvard Medical School, it takes one to two weeks for the vaccine to begin protecting you. So if you get sick right after your flu shot, it’s not the vaccine’s fault at all.

Myth: A flu shot is foolproof

A medical professional prepares a person to get a flu shot.Credit: Steve Debenport/Getty Images

Yes, the flu shot raises your defenses, but it doesn’t make you invincible against the flu. Sometimes the vaccine doesn’t work well against the influenza strains circulating. Or your immune system is compromised. Or maybe you already became infected before the vaccine could work.

“Vaccines are like seat belts: They are not perfect but they are the best protection we have against serious injury and death,” Mayo Clinic says. So even if you’ve had your shot, you still should take further steps to ensure your health.

Myth: Antibiotics can speed your recovery

Some people might rush to their doctors at the first sign of flu symptoms, hoping for medicine that can speed their recovery. Unfortunately, antibiotics won’t work against viral infections like influenza. Most people with average flu symptoms just have to ride out the virus and boost their recovery with healthy nutrition and rest.

But there are times when antibiotics end up being necessary. “Some people develop a bacterial infection as a complication of the flu, so it may be a good idea to get checked out if your symptoms drag on or worsen,” according to Harvard Medical School. Always take any signs of illness seriously during flu season, and seek care as soon as possible.

Main image credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images


federico b
federico b10 days ago

Grazie dell'articolo molto interessante!!

Sonia M
Sonia M10 days ago

Good article,thanks for sharing

Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer11 days ago

Very informative

Danuta W
Danuta W12 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

Paulo R
Paulo R12 days ago


Angeles Madrazo
Angeles M12 days ago

Thank you

Pearl W
Pearl W12 days ago

Hi All - One of the easiest places to pick up the flu is the Drs waiting room - Maybe that's why so many people think the vaccine is responsible for their bout of the flu - Nope they probably just picked it up reading magazines, etc - smiles

hELEN h12 days ago


Wesley Struebing
Wesley Struebing12 days ago

Man, I never heard the myth that the fu shot is foolproof. How could anyone believe that one? It's bad enough that they believe that the flu shot can give you flu, or that antibiotics are good for flu.

Shae Lee
Shae Lee12 days ago

Thanks for sharing