What Do You Know About the Common Cold?
This is the VOA Special English Health Report, from voaspecialenglish.com | facebook.com/voalearningenglish Do you think getting cold can give you a cold? Is it bad to drink milk when you have a cold? Can chicken soup cure a cold? Ranit Mishori is a family medicine doctor at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington. She says colds are more common in winter, but not because of low temperatures. The cold weather just means people stay inside more, often with other people. "And the way the common cold virus is transmitted from one person to another is through handshakes, through sneezing, or through coughing on one another." Adults generally get two to three colds a year. Children are likely to catch four or five. Dr. Mishori says some people mistakenly believe they can become resistant to colds. She says, "There are about two hundred different viruses that cause the common cold. People think that once you get infected one time you develop immunity for the rest of your life. This is wrong."There is still no cure for the common cold. But Dr. Mishori says there are ways to feel better sooner. "So if you catch a cold and on day one you start taking about two grams of vitamin C a day, there is evidence you might shorten the number of days that you will be suffering with these symptoms." She says honey can also help. There is evidence that it can shorten the length of the common cold sometimes even by two to three days. She says honey seems to be especially effective in children with colds. But the Agriculture Department says never to feed honey to babies less than one year old. It says even honey in prepared foods may contain substances that can make babies very sick. Some people believe in treating a cold with chicken soup. Does it work? Dr. Mishori says, "Chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties, so it helps reduce the duration but also it helps clear the mucus." Mucus is the sticky substance that can make you cough and have trouble breathing during a cold. Have you ever heard the old saying "feed a cold, starve a fever"? Dr. Mishori says this is not necessarily a good guideline to follow. She says if you have a cold but do not feel hungry, then don't eat. "But you have to drink a lot and you can drink water or tea -- anything that gets fluids into your body. That's very important." But what about drinking milk during a cold? Some people think it only causes more mucus. Dr. Mishori says yes and no. Dairy products do not cause increased mucus, she says, but they can thicken the mucus. She says, "It's possible that discomfort is somewhat more enhanced when you drink milk. But obviously, if you're a baby and that's all you drink, you should not stop giving babies milk." For VOA Special English, I'm Alex Villareal. MP3s, podcasts and transcripts our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. We're also on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 20Apr2011)