HEALTH

At-Home Cold And Flu Remedies That Really Don't Work

The flu doesn't care if you're too busy to get sick.

03/06/2016 10:00 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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Sorry, lady, your flu remedy is probably nonsense.

If at-home flu remedies and preventatives worked, the productivity commission would be handing out Vitamin C on the street and your boss would be making bulk batches of whiskey hot toddys.

But, alas, Australia's preeminent cold and flu scientists sneeze at almost all the tricks we've got to avoid the sniffles.

So here are our cold and flu myths, busted one by one.

Take heaps of vitamin C tablets the moment you feel sick

Monash University infection prevention and epidemiology medical director Rhonda Stuart said there was no proof for this one and it could actually be harmful.

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Well that definitely won't work.

"Sometimes we can actually do ourselves harm when we overdose on what we think will be beneficial vitamins," Stuart said.

"I wouldn't be promoting high dosing vitamin C to stop a cold."

A face mask in public will protect you from the flu

This one is true, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. Stuart said it did prevent virus-laden droplets being coughed into your face, but there was another way it was helpful.

"Out in the community setting, one of the big factors is it stops them putting their hand to face," Stuart said.

"That's one of the big ways we can transmit a virus. It gets on your hands and then you touch your mouth or your nose and the virus is transmitted."

Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters
Face masks stop you from touching your face with germy fingers.

You can catch a cold from being cold and wet

Nope. Stuart said you could get sick whether you were wearing a jumper or not.

"This is a bit of an old wives' tale about rugging up so you don't get pneumonia.

"We get these viruses by spreading from one to another person so the best way to protect ourselves is by make sure we have good hygiene."

You can get the flu from the flu vaccine

Stuart said absolutely was not possible as there was no live virus in the vaccine.

"People need to be aware we give vaccines to prevent getting influenza. It's not possible to get the flu from the vaccine."

Antibiotics will make you feel better

Stuart said she heard this all the time.

"The most commonly held myth is people think 'I've got a cold, I need something to fix me up. I'll go to the doctor and I'll get a script for an antibiotic'.

"Most colds are due to viruses and viruses don't respond to antibiotics, so that's a huge myth."

I'm fit and healthy, so I don't need the flu vaccine

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World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza acting director Ian Barr said there was no such thing as someone who was immune to getting sick.

"Quite often people tell me 'I've never had the flu'," Barr said.

"Well that's patently wrong. Unless you're living on a desert island, you will have had the flu.

"Everybody is susceptible to influenza unless you're vaccinated or were recently infected -- people should consider vaccination as the first line of defence against influenza."

Whiskey is good for a sore throat

Sorry, both Barr and Stuart agreed there was no evidence to back this one up.

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