MYTH: Being in cold weather makes you ill.
MYTHBUSTER: Not directly. The drop in temperature doesn’t make us sick, but the way germs react to it might. A 2015 study found that cooler temperatures allow cold-causing rhinoviruses to replicate faster in nasal passages. Cold weather also keeps us inside, where we come into close contact with sneezing, coughing, infectious people, explains biologist Elizabeth Scott, who specialises in public health.
Tip: If you have a cold or the flu, be courteous and stay away from others. If you’re not sick yet, wash your hands frequently and get a flu shot – it’s not too late.
MYTH: Hot water cleans best.
MYTHBUSTER: Cool water washes away the same amount of bacteria as hot water, according to a recent study of people whose hands were analysed for germs after washing at various temperatures. It’s more important to use soap, says Dr Stephen Calderwood, an authority on infectious diseases, because it removes more bacteria than water alone.
Tip: Count to 20 while lathering, then rinse.
MYTH: An antibiotic will kill the germs that are causing your cold.
MYTHBUSTER: No such luck. Most colds are caused by viruses, and viruses don’t respond to antibiotics.
Tip: Don’t demand an antibiotic from your doctor when you have a cold. “It might put you at greater risk of developing a subsequent infection that’s resistant to antibiotics,” explains Calderwood.