It's that time of the year again! Temperatures are dropping, winter coats are finding their way out from the back of our closets and you guessed it — flu season is in full swing.
Every year we're reminded of those old wives' tales, the ones that say we can cure a scratchy throat or stuffy nose with the help of a simple home remedy. But just how much truth is there to those tricks we're so quick to try? NBC News Medical Contributor, Dr. Natalie Azar stopped by TODAY Thursday to discuss.
How to determine the difference between the cold and the flu?
Both the cold and flu are caused by viruses and don't need antibiotics in order to be cured.
Symptoms are usually felt for 7-10 days. A runny nose, cough and congestion are expected. Look out for a fever, though. If you're developing one, chances are, you have the flu.
Antiviral medication can be used to help reduce flu symptoms, if you catch it within 48 hours.
1. Eating raw garlic helps boost your immune system: TRUE
Raw garlic can be helpful in warding off the common cold and flu. But we should note — if you're taking a blood thinner, garlic can increase risk of bleeding.
2. Drinking caffeine can help you get through the day when you're sick: FALSE
Unfortunately, caffeine can be dehydrating! Though it may feel like the only thing that will get you through that day's worth of work, it will keep you from getting the rest needed to regain your strength.
3. Putting onions in your socks before bed can help with a cold: FALSE
There isn't a lot of backed science to prove that this can help, but most eastern medicine holistic alternative people believe it to be true, said Dr. Azar.
4. Chicken soup is actually good for your body when you're sick: TRUE
Steam from the soup helps to loosen nasal congestion, and the salt is key for soothing a sore throat.
5. Honey helps treat a cold and cough: TRUE
Honey works as a cough suppressant, so medical professionals recommend a teaspoon and a half to help treat a cold and cough.
But it can contain bacterial botulinum — though it is a natural component of honey, doctors warn that it can be harmful to infants.
6. Starving a fever will help you get rid of the illness sooner: FALSE
At one point, fevers were thought to have been brought on by a person's metabolism, but that's no longer the case!
Dr. Natalie's advice? Eat, drink, and be merry!