Home remedies for infectious diseases are as old as humans themselves. While modern technology has brought medical treatment of infectious disease right to the cutting edge, there remains plenty of misinformation everywhere. Here, health informatician Dr. Joel Arun Sursas debunks five common myths about bacteria and viruses, including the novel coronavirus.
Facts: The COVID-19 pandemic hit during the traditional flu season. Several symptoms of COVID-19 are much like those of the seasonal flu and include fever, cough, aches, and fatigue. However, unlike the common flu, COVID-19 involves shortness of breath. Additionally, a fever is not an automatic indication of coronavirus infection. During an epidemic, stress and panic spread rapidly throughout populations. Use common sense preventative measures to protect against the coronavirus, including the guides provided by government healthcare professionals and your physician. An epidemic is a sure source of rumors and misinformation. Be aware of any symptoms you develop and seek medical advice if you think you are seriously ill.
Facts: Many, if not most, people take the attitude that every germ is dangerous. People become irrational about germs and develop habits of excessive sterilization, cleaning, and use of disinfectants. Although some microbes are hazardous and can cause disease and allergic reactions, most germs are not harmful to humans. Many microbes are beneficial or essential to our health. Many are natural, and some are designed for our use. Microbes can metabolize and eliminate dangerous chemicals, attack harmful germs, and can be used for insect and other pest control. Excessive or improper use of cleaning agents can harm beneficial microbes, us, and our pets.
Facts: Antibiotics are still a relatively recent medical development used to protect human health. Antibiotics are designed to effectively treat bacterial diseases by killing the bacteria in our system. It is important to understand that most illnesses we consider “colds” are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not affect viruses or viral illnesses at all. Improper use of antibiotics can be harmful by causing antibiotic resistance, impairing the ability of antibiotics to work in your system when you need the medication. Unnecessary antibiotic use can also weaken your natural microbial culture and your immune system.
Facts: The flu shot you receive by injection does not contain the virus that causes the flu. It has an inactive virus (or a modified virus in the case of a nasal spray) that cannot cause the flu or any viral infection. The injection can cause soreness or redness where you receive it, but that is not a viral infection. Until the vaccine has been in your system for a couple of weeks, it will not begin actively fighting off an actual viral infection. Of course, some patients are already infected at the time they receive their vaccine injection.
Facts: Public health professionals warn us that the onset of summer weather does not necessarily kill or stop the spread of coronavirus or other infectious viruses. While the traditional flu is much more infectious during regular flu season, the coronavirus is novel and previous studies regarding its behavior are not conclusive. Many more health issues present during hot weather and the risk of complications and additional stresses on hospitals and health facilities is much greater in warm weather.