How cognitive biases contribute to people refusing the flu vaccine

If someone receives the flu vaccine, there’s a better chance they’ll get through flu season without getting sick. But because the flu vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective, they might still end up infected despite the vaccine. To most observers, these two possible outcomes are “not equally salient,” write Frederick Chen and Ryan Stevens, two economists with an interest in vaccine refusal.

Source: How cognitive biases contribute to people refusing the flu vaccine

One other reason why people complain about the flu vaccine is that they don’t know what flu is. Influenza is a respiratory disease. It causes fever, coughing, sneezing, pneumonia. Flu doesn’t cause vomiting. If you’re vomiting, you don’t have flu. If you get the flu vaccine, and you end up with ” lotsa barfin'”, the flu vaccine didn’t fail, you got some other virus.

Why do people think that flu causes vomiting? For one thing, because of articles like this one, which is illustrated by an apparently-vomiting dog. So this article is actually helping drive some of the anti-flu-vaccine attitude, because the photo editor couldn’t be bothered to find an appropriate stock photo.

Body’s Defenses Against Common Viruses May Mess Up Neurons, Spark Depression

Getting sick is definitely a bummer. But besides feeling icky and being stuck in bed, viral infections may cause us to actually be depressed. While scientists have been clued into this connection for a while, there was little data on how everyday viral infections, like the flu, might mess with our moods.

Source: Body’s defenses against common viruses may mess up neurons, spark depression

Note that sickness behavior might be adaptive, helping sick animals clear their infections faster.  Lethargy and depression is a very effective way to redirect an animal’s energy away away from everyday expenditure and towards its immune system, where it’s most needed.

Might seem obvious, but the best way to fight off many illnesses is to take a day off and stay in bed. Feeling bad could be just Mother Nature’s way of prodding us to do that.

Universal Flu Shots May Be Impossible, Thanks to Duped Immune Cells

Ditching annual flu shots for a single stick that can protect year after year may be even harder to do than scientists thought—thanks to our own bamboozled immune systems.

Source: Universal flu shots may be impossible thanks to duped immune cells

The major point of the study was to determine if regular, annual flu shots could actually be compromising the body’s ability to target the stalk.  If a vaccine was released that targeted something else, that may well give the body the leg-up it needs to out-compete the native-grown immune response.

Remember that a vaccine isn’t telling the body how to react.  The vaccine merely introduces to the immune system some aspect of the virus so that when the virus really shows up, the machinery is primed and ready to go.

Unfortunately for us, the destroyed bits of virus that make up the current flu shot are reacted to by going for the easiest target, i.e. the heads. A vaccine consisting of just the stalks with something that stimulates the immune cells to grab on, would do the trick.  But that’s where the hard work lies.

Study: Common Decongestant May Be Worthless

When racked with a cold, flu, or bout of allergies, breathing through a snotless schnoz can seem like a sweet, sweet luxury—one most coveted during sleepless hours of the night. But many of the pills marketed to help achieve that unobstructed euphoria may be infuriatingly useless.

In a new study of more than 500 adult allergy sufferers, researchers found that the common, over-the-counter(OTC) decongestant, phenylephrine, was no better at unclogging noses than placebo—even when given at higher doses than those currently approved. The study’s authors called on the Food and Drug administration to strike phenylephrine from its list of effective nasal decongestants.

Source: Common decongestant may be worthless, study finds

Decongestants don’t “bust up boogers”.  They reduce swelling in the mucous membranes, thus opening nasal passages.  Mycolytics, like Mucinex (guaifenesin) break up mucus.

Thanks Walter White. Thanks a lot.

Sorry, but These Popular Cold and Flu Remedies Don’t Actually Work

There’s something about “natural” medicine that makes us want to believe it works, even if there’s very little evidence to support it. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of trying every single one of the natural remedies in this gallery. And, with cold and flu season around the corner, I’ll likely give each of these a try again. Sometimes science is wrong, right?

Click through the gallery above to see if your natural cold and flu fighter actually works – or if it’s all in your head.

Source: Sorry, but these popular cold and flu remedies don’t actually work

I’ve covered vitamin C and the common cold in the past.

One approach I’ve used when faced with severe nasal congestion is spicy food.  Maybe not the best idea if you’re running a fever already, but can provide the ability to breathe through your nose (if not briefly).

How We Learned Chlorine Gas Is Not An Effective Cold Remedy

Depends on how you define “effective” 😉

We know that chlorine is incredibly dangerous if inhaled. It destroys lung tissue, causing people to asphyxiate on their own pulped lungs. It was used as a weapon in World War I, and soldiers were terrified of it. .So why did a US President and a good chunk of Congress get gassed with it as a medical treatment?

Source: How We Learned Chlorine Gas Is Not An Effective Cold Remedy

That’s like how Marie Curie discovered radium – her note book now is kept in a lead box because it’s that radioactive.  We’ve made some great discoveries, but there have been some mistakes to get there.

The Myth of Vitamin C and the Common Cold

You’ve probably heard it a zillion times: take some vitamin C if you feel a cold coming on, and chase away illness with a gallon of orange juice. Even though we know there’s no cure for the common cold, many of us still believe in the sweet, orange elixir and don’t even question what the makers of the stuff guarantee: an 8 oz. glass delivers “100% of the vitamin C” needed to “maintain a healthy immune system.”

Science-ish looked at high-quality studies on the subject of vitamin C and sickness, starting with this recent Cochrane systematic review (the highest form of evidence) on the supplement for prevention and treatment of the common cold. The lead author, Dr. Harri Hemilä, of the department of public health at the University of Helsinki, told Science-ish he has spent much of his career exploring this very question—with some interesting results.

…there is good evidence it has benefits for one specific group of people: those who undertake really intense physical activity such as marathon runners. For them, vitamin C supplementation decreases the incidence of colds by half. These findings, though, do not hold up for ordinary people, Dr. Hemilä emphasized.

Source: The myth of Vitamin C and the common cold

All is not lost – vitamin C is good for:

  • free radical protection
  • collagen production
  • brain health

…and there are better sources than oranges.

Study: The Coffee Pot has the Most Germs

If you’re in a shared office environment, you probably wash you hands after using the restroom. That’s good hygiene, but you might consider washing your hands after touching the coffee pot. A recent study determined that it’s a “hot zone” in your office.

Source: The Most Germ-Infested Item in the Office Might Be the Coffee Pot

Anything that multiple people come into contact with is cause for germ exposure.  The handles for the hot/cold water, the door knob… Telephones too, but personal cell phones are putting a dent in that.  On a related note, the fist bump is more healthy than shaking hands because although contact is being made – it’s not where most of the germs are.

Hipster CDC Reports Flu Epidemic Peaked Years Ago

If you’re already sick, or feel like something is coming on – look to eat foods high in vitamin C.  There are foods with higher concentrations of vitamin C than oranges, and they’re low in vitamin K (if any at all).

Don’t forget that we live because of symbiosis with bacteria