Do you get flu every year? Think you know how to spot an old wives’ tale? There are some common flu myths that are perpetuated annually and, while many contain a grain of truth, most contain more fiction than fact. To prepare you for the next flu season, bsmart decided to look to the experts for their views on some of the most popular flu myths.

MYTH 1: You can get flu from the flu vaccine


According to the British National Health Service, a flu vaccine contains “inactivated flu viruses”. This means that when an adult is vaccinated, there is no live virus and so it’s impossible for you to get sick. Similarly, when a child is given the flu vaccine in a nasal spray, they won’t fall ill, even though it contains a weakened flu virus.

MYTH 2: You can treat flu with antibiotics


Antibiotics only work against infections caused by bacteria, while flu is caused by flu viruses. This is why, according to a statement from the Queensland Government’s Health Department, antibiotic medicines don’t work for colds or flu.

MYTH 3: You can get flu from cold weather

Verdict: False

All our mothers told us not to go outside with wet hair or we would catch a cold. The truth, states the Harvard Medical School, is that you cannot get flu from cold weather, the “only way to catch the flu is by being exposed to the influenza virus”.

MYTH 4: Flu isn’t dangerous

Verdict: False

Influenza isn’t like a bad cold. Symptoms can be sudden and severe, and if you experience complications you may need to be hospitalised. Statistics from South Africa’s Health Department reveal that in fact there are between 290 000 - 650 000 deaths globally and between 6 000 -11 000 deaths in South Africa each year.

MYTH 5: Only people that are “high-risk” should get the vaccine

Verdict: False

The people most at risk of falling ill are the very old, the very young and those in poor health, however, the fact is that anyone can get the flu. This is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that: Everyone 6 months and older is recommended for annual flu vaccination with rare exception.

MYTH 6: Vitamin C can prevent flu


While many people routinely take vitamin C throughout the winter season, there is little conclusive evidence - according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health - that this daily supplement will stop you from getting flu. This US government department’s position is that, “taking vitamin C regularly did not reduce the likelihood of getting a cold but was linked to small improvements in cold symptoms.”

MYTH 7: Chicken soup will speed up your recovery


Chicken soup has many benefits: the hot liquid soothes a sore throat, you get in much-needed fluids, and it’s a nutrient-rich food option if your appetite is poor. While it may be comforting and make you feel better, Harvard Medical School busts the myth, claiming that “chicken soup has no other specific qualities that can help fight the flu”.

As a bsmart member you can use your bsmart card to pay for your winter needs. Looking for flu medication and hand sanitisers from a chemist? Want to buy fresh fruit and vegetables from a supermarket? To find the closest retailer in your area, click here.

At bsmart we aim to help our members live smart, spend smart and save smart, and we do this by sharing helpful lifestyle information and advice. As we head into the cooler months, why not read our other winter blogs, such as cutting your electricity usage and those unavoidable winter costs.

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Disclaimer: bsmart does not provide medical advice. The above article is for information purposes only. Please consult a suitable and qualified medical professional if you require specific medical advice.