KENILWORTH, N.J., Dec. 18, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Each year, there are millions of cases of the common cold in the United States. The CDC reports that adults average two to three colds per year, and children experience even more. Despite the incidence rate, misconceptions about proper management of cold symptoms persist.
A survey released today from the Merck Manuals found that 88 percent of Americans are confident when it comes to treating cold symptoms. However, the survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Manuals found that many Americans buy into age-old myths about the common cold that could affect their treatment.
- One in four Americans (25 percent) believes it's possible to catch a cold by going outside in cold weather without a coat. But according to the Merck Manual, "Becoming chilled does not cause colds, nor does it increase a person's susceptibility to infection." Many different viruses can cause colds, and they spread "mainly when people's hands come in contact with nasal secretions from an infected person."
- Just under half of Americans (49 percent) correctly identified that antibiotics are useless in treating colds. As the Manual states, "Antibiotics do not help people with colds, even when the nose or cough produces thick or colored mucus."
- 28 percent believe that a bad cold can turn into the flu, when in reality the common cold and the flu are distinctly different and should be treated as such. "The flu is caused by a different virus and produces symptoms that are more severe," according to the Manual.
Misreading symptoms or failing to seek appropriate treatment can lead to serious health issues. According to the CDC, more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized each year for respiratory and heart conditions illnesses associated with seasonal influenza virus infections.
Yet many who exhibit symptoms of the flu may not seek medical care. Just a third of American adults (33 percent) say they would always go to the doctor if they were exhibiting symptoms of the flu. The remaining two-thirds indicated several reasons that would prevent them from seeing a doctor, such as:
- I don't believe the doctor will be able to help me (30 percent)
- It's too expensive (26 percent)
- I don't have time to get to the doctor (18 percent)
- I don't want to be exposed to more germs at the doctor's office (11 percent)
In a recent editorial on MerckManuals.com, Dr. Sanjay Sethi, expert in Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine said, "If you're feeling achy or have a fever and think you might have the flu, you should get to the doctor or urgent care center ASAP. Unlike a cold, there are drugs that treat the flu virus, which are most effective within the first 48 hours of the infection."
According to Dr. Sethi, who authors the sections on pneumonia for the Manuals, "When you first start experiencing symptoms, differentiating between a cold, the flu and pneumonia isn't always easy or straightforward. Fortunately, a health care professional can usually give you a better idea of what's going on. Pay close attention to your symptoms and don't wait to see a medical professional if you think it may be something beyond the sniffles."
About The Merck Manuals and MSD Manuals
First published in 1899 as a small reference book for physicians and pharmacists, The Merck Manual grew in size and scope to become one of the world's most widely used comprehensive medical resources for professionals and consumers. As The Manual evolved, it continually expanded the reach and depth of its offerings to reflect the mission of providing the best medical information to a wide cross-section of users, including medical professionals and students, veterinarians and veterinary students, and consumers. In 2015, The Manuals kicked off Global Medical Knowledge 2020, a program to make the best current medical information accessible by up to three billion professionals and patients around the world by 2020. For access to thousands of medical topics with images, videos and a constantly expanding set of resources, visit MerckManuals.com or MSDManuals.com and connect with us on social media:
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This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Merck Manuals from November 2-6, 2017 among 2,128 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jamie Haynes at email@example.com.
For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world - including cancer, cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer's disease and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.