Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits - Summer Health Myths

Does peeing on a jellyfish sting ease the pain? 
Get the answer and find out other fascinating truths to these summer health myths.

Wait a half hour after eating before you can safely go swimming.
We always had to abide by this rule when I was a child, and it's still believed by some today.  While it's true that the digestive process does divert the circulation of the blood toward the gut and to a certain extent, away from the muscles (possibly causing cramping), the fact is that an episode of drowning caused by swimming on a full stomach has never been documented. Neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the American Red Cross makes any specific recommendations about waiting any amount of time after eating before taking a swim. 

Peeing on a jellyfish sting will ease the pain.
Though it may sound convenient, but also pretty gross!--urine hasn't been proven to curb the hurt. What has: vinegar. "Its acidity is believed to inactivate the stingers and diminish the pain," says Stanford University School of Medicine emergency-medicine doctor Paul Auerbach, M.D., author of Medicine for the Outdoors. Soak a paper towel in household white vinegar and hold it on the wound for about 30 minutes. Afterward, use an OTC hydrocortisone cream to quell any itching. (If, however, you start to feel dizzy or nauseated or develop any kind of rash, you may be having an allergic reaction and should get yourself to a doctor right away, says Auerbach.)

Going in and out of air-conditioned buildings can make you sick.
If you feel congested or start sniffling, it's likely due to summer allergies, says pulmonologist Neil Schachter, M.D., author of The Good Doctor's Guide to Colds and Flu. "People who have allergies--even small sensitivities--may be affected when moving from a clean-air environment into one that's full of Mother Nature's irritants," he says. If your symptoms are on overdrive, try staying inside on very hot, humid days, when outdoor allergens are at their most potent. And keep your home dust-and mold-free by cleaning your AC filter every month or by investing in a HEPA air purifier that nixes 99 percent of airborne contaminants.   Another cause of your sniffles may be common cold and flu viruses. Some viruses can survive on surfaces like doorknobs for days. Wash your hands regularly, and go as you please.

Flip-flops are kind to your feet.
"Most flip-flops don't have adequate arch support, cushioning, or shock absorption," says Manhattan-based foot doctor Jacqueline Sutera, D.P.M. Wearing them all summer, every summer could lead to pinched foot nerves, heel pain, tendinitis, and strained arches. If you can't quit flops entirely, buy ones that have at least a three-quarter-inch semi-cushioned sole and built-in arch support. Even better, go for a strappy sandal; simple thongs force your toes into an unhealthy clenched position when you walk, encouraging hammertoe growth. Or try cute, beachy wedges (three inches high or less), which offer more support in just about every foot area and help distribute your body weight more evenly.  Or better yet, go barefoot...
A dip in the pool can do double duty as a shower.
Consider this: Most people don't rinse off before they go swimming. "Chemicals in personal-care products, sweat, and makeup can interfere with chlorine, making it much less effective," says Michele Hlavsa, R.N., M.P.H., of the CDC's Healthy Swimming Program. The result? Public pools in particular are often swimming with nasties such as cryptosporidium, which can bring on diarrhea, ear infections, and skin rashes. Showering after a dip can wash bacteria off your skin and cut your risk of getting sick. Use soap--a quick hose-off may not be enough.

Sunburn will fade into a tan.
Sunburn is a burn and not a prerequisite stage for a tan. Sunburn will result in skin damage, redness, and eventual peeling. Any amount of sun exposure poses an increased risk for the development of skin cancers and premature aging, but sunburn poses an even stronger risk.
Drinking from a hose can make you sick.
"No germs live specifically in garden hoses," says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a professor of environmental science at the University of Arizona. However, where the hose's end may have rested (in animal poop?) and what the leaching lead may be a concern.  Many hoses are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which uses lead as a stabilizer.  When water sits in a PVC hose, lead can leach into the water.  Good news is that you can buy hoses that are lead-free.  With any hose, even one labeled “drink-safe,” let the water run until it’s cold before you drink from it, because bacteria is more likely to grow in warm standing water.  And keep your lips off the hose!
Mayonnaise is a major culprit in food-poisoning outbreaks.
Store-bought mayo can actually retard the growth of food-borne bacteria thanks to some of its ingredients, including salt and lemon juice. But many dishes that contain mayonnaise tend to be handled a lot - so there are more opportunities for the food to be contaminated.
Safety tip: Wash and dry veggies before adding them to a salad, use separate cutting boards for meat and produce, and be sure your hands and work surface are scrupulously clean before making sandwiches. Homemade mayonnaise, by the way, does not contain preservatives and should be used only in foods that will remain refrigerated.

You don't need a cooler if you've got an air-conditioned car.
Just because you're happy at 75 degrees doesn't mean your ham and cheese on rye is. In fact, this atmosphere is the ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria, which multiply rapidly when they're in the temperature danger zone of 40 to 140 degrees.
Safety tip: Food can safely be kept at room temperature for up to two hours or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees. That means two hours total, so be sure you count the time the sandwiches sat out in the sun while guests played beach volleyball. 
If you get a bee sting, squeeze out the stinger.
Never do this! Squeezing the stinger may allow venom still in the sac to get into your system. "Scrape the stinger out with a credit card or even a long fingernail, if it’s clean."  If the person is getting red or having trouble breathing, dial 911. This can be serious or even fatal.

Poison ivy is catching.
Poison ivy is an allergic reaction to an oil called urushiol, released when the leaves of the poison ivy or poison oak or sumac are brushed or crushed. Usually, nothing happens the first time. The big fun comes on the second exposure. Within 15 minutes, the oil binds to skin proteins. If you can rub it off with alcohol or plenty of cold water, the rash can be avoided. It is not contagious, no matter how icky the rash looks. Scratching the blisters also does not spread it, but while you still have the oil on your hands, you can spread it.  Calamine or Burrows solution can calm the blistery rash. An antihistamine like Benadryl can ease the itching or at the very least, will allow you to sleep through it. A cortisone cream can help soothe the itching as well. In severe cases your doctor may prescribe cortisone medication by mouth.
Facts/myths taken from webmd.com, menshealth.com, Women’s Health, medicinenet.com, foodsafety.gov and homefoodsafety.org.

What's your favorite summer health myth?  
How long did you believe it?


  1. My favorite summer myth is that it is a relaxing time. Maybe for the kids it is.

    PS Love that photo of Munchkin at the beach!

  2. This is my new favorite Blog in Naperville. It's way better than that kook Kovas. Do you know him? Yikes, what a know-it-all.

    p.s. I kid. I love Kovas.

  3. Loved these. Seriously, I guess I'll stop pissing on myself when I get a jellyfish sting! I'm not sure I can think of a summer health myth but I know that many people say that certain lotions prevent stretch marks and I'm pretty sure this isn't so true. I don't have them but many of my friends that did use cocoa butter and other lotions/oils do. Great post here. Fun to read.


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