Cold and Flu: Fact vs. Myth Module

Fact or Myth

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Antibiotics can always be used to effectively treat colds and flus.

All over-the-counter cold medicines are the same.

In North America, colds and flus occur more in the winter months.

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This is a myth

This is a fact.

Here's the fact: Antibiotics are important treatments for bacterial infections, but they are not effective against standard colds and flus caused by viral infections. When antibiotics are used to treat conditions other than bacterial infections, there is a risk of developing antibiotic resistance - a major public health concern. There are plenty of over-the-counter options for colds and flus that can help relieve the many symptoms you can face. The good news is that brands like Tylenol® Complete make this process easier by combining many ingredients into a single tablet so you can relieve most or all of your symptoms with one product.

Here's the fact: There are plenty of over-the-counter options to help relieve the symptoms of colds and flus. Flus normally come with a multitude of symptoms - sore throat, fever, body aches and chills, cough, congestion, sinus pressure and pain, and headache. There are non-prescription products that combine several ingredients into one tablet to make relieving these symptoms more convenient. Pain-related symptoms like sore throat, fever, and body aches are normally relieved with an analgesic such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Nasal congestion and sinus pressure are normally relieved with decongestants like pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. Guaifenesin is normally used to help relieve chest congestion. Dextromethorphan is normally used to suppress dry coughs. Night-time products may also include a drowsy antihistamine such as diphenhydramine to let you rest while relieving runny nose, sneezing, and dry cough. Some products rely on ingredients like menthol to provide quick relief of certain symptoms such as sore throat. Products like Tylenol® Complete combine most of these ingredients into one pill to make symptom relief easier for someone facing the flu.

It is true that colds and flus are more prevalent during the winter months. Although the exact reasons are unknown, there are several possible causes. One theory is the low amount of water vapour in the air. While it may seem damp, winter air is normally drier. The dry air and lack of water vapour actually provide the perfect conditions for the flu virus to flourish. In moist air, virus particles remain large and drop to the floor, but in dry air they break up into smaller pieces and can stay aloft in the air. Other theories include being in closer contact with people carrying germs, since people are more likely to stay indoors during the winter months; physiological reasons like lack of vitamin D synthesis; and constriction of blood vessels due to cold temperatures, which may prevent white blood cells from reaching mucous membranes and eliminating viruses.