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Achoo! Myths and Facts About Colds

By Krista Elliott

The kids have been back to school for a little while now, which means that it's only a matter of time before one of them comes home with a cold to share with the entire family. (Ah, the joyful petri dish that is the average grade school!) 

Colds aren't serious, but they can definitely suck the energy out of a person. The sniffling and sneezing, the foggy head, the 90 percent blockage of your nostrils requiring you to chew supper with your mouth open while glaring balefully at anybody who dares protest: It's all part and parcel of the common cold. This viral infection of the upper respiratory system is more common in kids than adults, but still likes to visit us grown-ups a few times a year just to say hi. 

Because colds are so ... well, common, there are all kinds of home remedies, myths, and facts about them. So pull up a chair and grab a box of tissues as we delve into a few of them.

Mwahhh!: You might think that you should avoid kissing people when you have a cold, but kissing is actually one of the safer forms of bodily contact when sick. As it turns out, the cold virus loves hands, noses, and eyes more. Most people catch a cold by shaking the hand of an infected person, and then scratching at their eye or their nose later on. But kissing? Turns out it's pretty safe. So, if you have a business meeting, it's probably best to smooch your clients instead of shaking their hand. (Editor's note: Don't actually do this.) 

Soup's On: This is an old remedy that actually has some merit. Researchers have found that chicken soup is pretty effective at reducing a broad range of cold symptoms. It's not just the steam, either, as hot water wasn't shown to be as effective as soup. With all the concerns about cold medications for kids, chicken soup is a great drug-free alternative for little ones. 

It's All in Your Head: Are you also experiencing chest congestion, with the socially delightful side effect of coughing up phlegm? We often call this a "chest cold," but it's not actually a cold. Instead, it's acute bronchitis. It's caused by the airways becoming inflamed, which then build up mucus. It is often triggered by a viral infection, which explains why it so often happens right on the heels of a head cold. 

Despite being common, there are still a lot of things about the common cold that are a mystery (including the cure)! Armed with a bit of solid information, though (and a steaming pot of soup), you'll be in great shape to combat the sniffles all season long. 

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