Everybody has advice these days. Don’t get vaccinated. Don’t take medicine. Don’t get blood transfusions. As crazy as some of those sound, that is the actual belief of many people. As we embrace science on one hand and seek the highest quality health care possible, on the other hand many of us still believe old wives tales and urban legends about our health and our bodies. Most likely your mother told you not to go outside in the cold because you’ll get sick. Or not to go swimming after eating because you’ll get cramps. While these things sound true and may even be based on something that seems accurate, they are false. Cold weather does not make you sick and swimming around after eating doesn’t give you cramps. Vaccines don’t cause autism and you can’t “sweat out toxins”. Today we are going to try to separate fact from fiction. We will try to see what sort of conceptions we have about ourselves and our bodies and then go through them to see what we should believe. Although your mother loves you, just because she said it doesn’t necessarily make it fact. These are 25 misconceptions about your body that aren’t true.
Sneezing stops your heart for a second
No, it doesn’t. If you’re heart stopped for even a second, you would know.
You can catch a disease from sitting on a public toilet seat
No matter what your mom said, STDs are only transferred by blood, sexual contact, or in utero.
Coffee sobers you up
Not at all. It will only make you feel like you are sober, which is dangerous, especially if you are driving. Basically, don’t drink coffee after alcohol.
It is safe to lick a cut
Your mouth is a dirty place filled with all kinds of bacteria. Licking your cut will only make it more likely to get infected.
Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight
According to doctors, reading in dim light can give you temporary eye fatigue because your eye muscles have to work a little harder to focus, but there is no evidence that it damages your eyes in the long run.
If your mucus is green you have a sinus infection
Your mucus can be anywhere between white and green but this only indicates whether or not there is a certain protein in your white blood cells. It doesn’t tell you if you have a sinus infection.
Nuts, seeds, and popcorn stick to the lining of your stomach
If you have pouches along your bowel wall, then you have a disease called diverticulitis, but it is not caused by seeds, nuts, or popcorn.
You get wrinkles in the pool because your skin absorbs water
Your skin is waterproof, it can’t absorb water. The wrinkles are simply vasoconstriction triggered by your autonomic nervous system. Scientists are not exactly sure why this happens but it could be because it gives better grip in slippery environments (though this theory is contested as well).
You would explode in outer space
No, you wouldn’t, but reality isn’t much better: you would go unconscious after roughly 10 seconds, swell up, your blood would boil, and if you are not rescued after about 90 seconds, you would die (you wouldn’t freeze either because in a vacuum there is no real conduit for heat loss).
Drinking orange juice cures colds
Although orange juice does contain some vitamin C (but not as much as you think), and vitamin C is helpful to your immune system, it is not a magic drug and will do very little in the way of curing a cold.
Tilt your head back when you get a nose bleed
This is actually quite a silly thing to do. The blood will now run down your throat and into your stomach, potentially causing you to vomit. Instead, try pinching your nose, sitting down, and leaning forward. Blood might get on the floor, but that’s better than puking it up and getting your vomit on the floor too.
Peeing on a jellyfish sting neutralizes the pain
This is a popular myth that is not true at all. Jellyfish stings are activated by fresh water and most of your pee happens to be just that.
Heart attacks always hurt really badly
About 40-60 percent of heart attacks go unnoticed, especially in women. If you do feel the heart attack there is a good chance that it will feel something like heart burn, tooth pain, or any number of other symptoms.
Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis
The crack is just negative pressure pulling nitrogen into the joint, and that isn’t harmful.
Alcohol warms you up
Alcohol only makes you feel warm but only because it causes blood vessels near the surface of your skin to dilate. Ironically, this actually cools down your core body temperature.
You can sweat out toxins
Sweat consists of water, salt and electrolytes. Because your sweat glands are superficial and only found in your skin, that is all that your sweat will ever consist of. There is no way for any mysterious “toxin” to be released through your sweat.
Going out in the cold, especially with wet hair, makes you sick
This is wrong. You get sick because of viruses. Viruses do not care about the temperature. Furthermore, your immune system is not significantly affected by the cold because your body maintains a core temperature of about 37C (98.5F). If this drops by even a couple degrees you will get hypothermia and die. The reason more people get sick in winter is because you are likely to stay indoors and around other people, which is exactly where all the viruses are.
Sugar makes kids hyperactive
It doesn’t. Studies have shown that when a child is given a placebo (what the parents think is sugar water), then the parents will consistently rank the child as being more hyper. Maybe your kids just get excited about candy, but there is no chemical effect of sugar on hyperactivity.
If you swim less than 30 minutes after eating you'll get a cramp
If your mom every told you not to swim after eating because you’ll get a cramp and drown…well, she’s wrong. You might get a cramp, but it will have nothing to do with when you ate.
Don’t have milk when you're sick because it makes more mucus
Milk can thicken mucus, but not make more of it. At any rate, this won’t set you back much on the healing process.
You should never wake up a sleepwalker
According to the myth, if you wake a sleepwalker it can give them a heart attack or send them into shock. While that won’t happen, it is probably best just to guide them back to bed because if you wake them up they’ll probably be really, really groggy.
You become resistant to antibiotics
It is not you that becomes resistant to antibiotics, it is the bacteria.
Hair grows back thicker
It doesn’t. When it grows naturally, it grows tapered. When you shave it, it has a blunt tip. This blunt tip may make your hair appear to be thicker but it’s not. The thickness of your hair is determined beneath the skin by the root, over which your razor has no say.
Drowning people flail
Hollywood is wrong on this one. As every lifeguard will tell you, drowning people are hard to spot because they don’t make much of a racket. Drownings are usually extremely silent with not much going on at the surface of the water.
Vaccines cause autism
Although the study that started this rumor has been debunked as a fraud, everybody still seems to believe. No, vaccines do not cause autism any more than driving cars cause diarrhea.