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Survey Reveals Majority of Americans Hold onto Myths About What Causes Colds and How to Treat Them
Date:10/19/2010

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- A new national survey of U.S. adults has found the majority of Americans are misinformed about what causes the common cold, and how and when they should treat it.  Much of this confusion comes from myths Americans grew up with that have stuck with them throughout their adult lives.  Nearly three-quarters of consumers (72 percent) believe there is not much they can do about a cold except mask the symptoms and wait it out.  In fact, one-third of cold sufferers admit they wait until they feel miserable before taking medications that can help.

According to a second survey of U.S. pharmacists, this consumer belief is in direct contrast to what the majority of U.S. pharmacists believe – 93 percent of pharmacists report that early treatment of a cold can actually prevent a trip to the doctor's office, and 84 percent of pharmacists believe consumers often make poor choices about the best treatments for their colds.

The surveys, which were commissioned by Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., makers of Zicam, also found that most consumers harbor myths about what causes a cold and what remedies are effective.  While 86 percent of consumer survey respondents understand that colds are caused by viruses, 65 percent of consumer survey respondents also incorrectly believe that bacteria can cause a cold, and 53 percent of consumer survey respondents mistakenly believe you can treat a cold with antibiotics.  Consumers also tend to rely on a variety of home remedies, including chicken soup, orange juice and vitamins, even though nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumer survey respondents acknowledge that some of what they learned from their mothers about catching and treating colds is untrue and not based on science.

The top five myths about colds that pharmacists say are most difficult to debunk are:

  • Antibiotics can kill the germs that cause colds
  • Changes in the weather c
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  • SOURCE Matrixx Initiatives, Inc.
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