There are lots of legends about what can happen to your health during winter, things people accept as a matter of fact. The thing is, the majority of them really aren't true. It's important to distinguish truth from myth, because you might be doing things you shouldn't – and you may not be doing things you should. Being familiar with the top 8 myths about winter health can take care of those issues.
1. The Cold Causes Colds
When I was little, my mom was always of the believe that I could catch a cold if I was out in cold weather. Logically she knew better, because she's a nurse. However, it was habit, because her mother taught her the same thing. You may have had family members tell you this as well, but it's actually not true. The elements don't affect your health like that, and in fact, health experts say that it can be good for you to go out with wet hair, for instance. It can help you prevent a cold. The thing to remember is that viruses cause colds, not to weather.
2. Winter Depression
Many people also believe that those who are depressed get more so during the winter months. However, this is a myth as well. While people may get depressed during winter, they do not get more depressed then than they do at other times of the year. Holiday blues and the like do exist, but are not diagnosed as actual depression.
3. Chicken Soup for the Common Cold
Did you ever hear that chicken soup can cure your cold? Many people actually think this is a myth, but in fact, it's actually true. Chicken soup can help your immune system; something about its composition can cause your white blood cells to come together. Those cells fight infections, so chicken soup can actually work as a preventative measure.
4. Wear a Hat or Die
Going back to cold weather causing colds, you've probably been told at some point in your life that you need to wear a hat, because you lose your body heat through the top of your head. This isn't true. Neither you nor your children will risk getting sick if you don't have a hat. You can wear one and stay warmer, sure, but it's not going to hurt you if you forget.
5. Sleeping the Winter Away
Another myth involves the subject of sleep throughout the winter months. People believe that they should sleep more frequently in the winter – some of them even want to hibernate. In truth, you should resist this feeling. You don't need more sleep when it's cold, although it is tempting to stay in your warm, cozy bed for a while. You really need to be careful about getting too much sleep, because it can make you drowsy throughout the rest of your day.
6. Don't Wear Sunscreen
In the winter, the sun is like a forgotten friend. You don't see it very much, so you don't need to protect yourself from it, right? Wrong. Even if you can't see the sun, it's still there. More importantly, its UV rays are still there as well. If you're going to be outside for a long amount of time, you need to wear sunscreen to protect your skin.
7. You Can't Get Frostbite
A lot of people think that it's really hard to catch frostbite. They think they have to be out in the cold for hours without adequate protection. The truth is that frostbite can happen before you know it. Frostbite is actually frightfully common in the winter. If your feet or hands get cold or wet, they can get numb and then start to blister. It can happen in as little as half an hour. Your best bet is to stay warm and dry.
8. Allergies Don't Exist in Winter
I've been guilty of believing this myth, which is actually twofold. If you don't think allergies exist in winter, think again. If you're allergic to pollen, you can typically get a respite. However, if you're bothered by things like dust and dander, the season doesn't matter.
Health myths can be dangerous. Some of them are funny, but believing them can still put you at risk – or cause you to worry unnecessarily. What's the biggest myth about health you heard as a kid?
Top Photo Credit: Lori-B.