We have all had wisdom from parents and grandparents that range from washing hands only with warm water to not having ice creams when you have a cold. While there is a kernel of truth somewhere in these words, not all of them are completely true. While the common cold is ridden with myths, there are other health myths that we do tend to follow rather blindly. The field of medicine is full of myths and half-truths and sometimes, the doctors alsohumour us by allowing us to believe in our myths as long as wedo not get carried away.
MYTH: COLD CAN SPREAD ONLY IF SOMEONE SNEEZES OR COUGHS
Truth: Truthfully, this is just one way in which a virus can spread. A cold can and does spread even if you sit next to the affected person and hold his/her hand. Viruses live on furniture, phones, toys and other household or office surfaces for several hours. This means that the virus can spread even if you touch the things previously touched by the affected person.
MYTH: COLD CAUSES FEVERS
Truth: A fever actually is an indicator of other happenings in your body and does not usually have a connection with cold. Though fever is listed as a symptom of common cold everywhere, in adults, however, it is very rare. It is more common for cold to cause sore throat and cough rather than fever.
MYTH: CHILLY WEATHER CAUSES COLD
Truth: The weather has got nothing to do with cold. The common cold is caused by a virus called Rhinovirus. Unless this virus is nearby, chances of catching a cold are zero. On a lighter note, even if you freeze, you will not have a cold! On the same lines, sleeping with a wet head or shampooing your hair in the night will not give you a cold in the morning.
MYTH: EATING COLD FOODS LIKE ICE CREAM WILL INCREASE COLD
Truth: There is no connection between cold and eating cold foods like ice cream or curd. It all in fact depends on the metabolism of a person. If you are in general, low in immunity, or have certain allergies, you should stay away. Lifestyle plays a very important role.
MYTH: DRINK 8 GLASSES OF WATER PER DAY
Truth: The number 8 is not based on any scientific data and no one knows where the idea came from. The idea is to keep the body hydrated but that can be done with the fluids we drink anyway – tea, coffee, juice and more. Most people don’t realise that we get water from our food too. Foods contain water and are broken down during digestion to release carbon dioxide and water. So unless you want to be sweating buckets, there is no reason to drink 8 glasses of water!
MYTH: CRACKING KNUCKLES CAUSES ARTHRITIS
Truth: It is a completely baseless myth. The sound that comes from cracking your knuckles is actually air escaping from the pockets. This has no connection with your bones whatsoever. People do it as a mode of relaxation and while it is annoying to those near you, it has no adverse health effects.
WATER KILLS GERMS EFFECTIVELY
Truth: It is true that heat kills bacteria and it is advisable to boil water before drinking it but the same does not apply for washing hands. The water would have to be scalding hot for the bacteria to die. So long as hands are scrubbed properly, normal room temperature water is good enough to wash hands. On the same note, hand sanitizers do not replace water. They should only be used in extreme emergencies and in the next available chance, should be washed with water.
MYTH: TAKING VITAMIN C HELPS YOU RECOVER FASTER
Truth: All the Vitamin tablets in the world would not help you stave off a cold or make it go faster. If you get a cold, you have to give it time to let it pass through your system. There is no use of taking Vitamin C supplements because the body flushes it out. All the Vitamin C you ever need will be there if you just take a balanced diet.
MYTH: PUBLIC TOILET SEATS CAUSE INFECTION
Truth: There are more chances of infections spreading from the toilet flush handle than the actual seat. Only very few people wash their hands before and after using public restrooms and thus viruses spreading from their hands on to the handles is more likely than anything else. Try using your foot to flush since the toilet handle is where germs congregate!
MYTH: TILTING YOUR HEAD BACK CURES NOSEBLEEDS
Truth: Nosebleeds are common occurrences in places with extreme heat but these days, a lot of people experience this primarily because of lifestyle changes. It might be immediate intuition to tilt your head backwards but you should actually sit up straight and tilt your head slightly forward. Tilting it backwards can cause choking and the blood going to your stomach which can in turn cause stomach upset.