Exploding the myths about colds

Colds are the result of getting cold, and if you have a fever it’s best to sweat it out. True or false? There are many myths surrounding the common cold. We explain what lies behind them.
Your nose is running, your throat’s scratchy and your head’s throbbing. Everyone knows what it’s like to have a cold. According to Swiss Statistics, adults do indeed catch cold three times a year on average. Find out here whether the commonly held beliefs about colds are true or false.

Colds are caused by the cold

False. It’s true that winter’s the main season for sniffles, but it’s not the cold alone that gives you a cold. What actually happens is that the immune system is weakened by switching between the cold outdoors and the warm indoors. Central heating also dries out your mucous membranes, reducing your natural protection against viruses and bacteria. So the cold temperature only has an indirect influence.

A cold can develop into flu

False. The symptoms of cold and flu are similar, which is why colds are categorised as a type of influenza-like illness. But the two conditions are triggered by different viruses. Colds only develop into flu if you get infected by a flu virus on top of the cold virus because your immune system is weak.

A flu shot also protects you against colds

False. Since flu and the common cold are caused by different viruses, a flu shot won’t prevent you from catching cold. Even so, it makes sense to have a flu vaccination because flu takes a much more severe course than a cold.

Stress makes you sick

True. When it’s subjected to prolonged stress our body secretes stress hormones such as cortisol in larger quantities. These hormones weaken the immune system and make us more prone to infection. So rest and relaxation are important if you want to stay healthy.

It’s best to sweat out a fever

False. Your body is weaker when you have a cold, and fever puts it under even greater strain. Most people feel cold when they have a fever, so of course it makes sense to wrap up warm. But wrapping up too warm is counterproductive, as the increase in temperature is also very stressful for the body.

Snuffling is better than blowing your nose

True. Blowing your nose creates a lot of pressure in your throat. This can force germs into your sinuses and lead to inflammation, which will only prolong the cold. So it’s better to sniff.


In the event of further health-related questions, SWICA customers can contact the santé24 telemedicine service free of charge on +41 44 404 86 86. A telemedicine practice licence allows santé24 physicians to provide additional medical services in cases that are suited to a telemedicine approach. SWICA customers can also use the BENECURA medical app to carry out a digital SymptomCheck and receive recommendations about what to do next. During a subsequent phone call with santé24, customers can decide for themselves whether to release their information from SymptomCheck to santé24.