Pop quiz: If you get caught in a downpour without an umbrella, your likelihood of catching a cold will sky rocket correct? Not really and if you thought this common myth was true then don’t worry, you’re not alone. These beliefs usually start out as hearsay and assumptions and are spread until they settle in as fact. (‘Fess up: how many came from your own parents?) So with the help of Kent Holtorf, M.D., founder of Holtorf Medical Group, we debunk six medical myths you might believe in the hopes that the truth will set you free.. to go run in the rain.
Does cold/wet weather make you sick? You might think this is true because so many of us get colds and the flu during the winter months, but it’s because that’s when the virus happens to be around. Your immune system might weaken when you’re cold thus making you more susceptible to falling ill, but that’s about as far as the correlation goes. You could also get a stuffy nose, but it isn’t always a symptom of sickness. “It’s called rhinitis,” Dr. Holtorf points out. “That’s when the vessels in the nose dilate and contract and so it has to do with the temperature instead of a virus.” Also, as you breathe in cold air, which holds less water, it creates a fog in your nose. Soon enough the precipitation drips out and voilà! Annoying sniffles appear.
Does the flu shot give you the flu? Depends on your immune system’s health. Vaccines contain either a weakened or dead form of the virus so your system can recognize, destroy and then remember the microbe if it ever reappears in your body. “This means you’ll get some of the symptoms of the flu, but you will not get the full flu unless your immune system’s low and that weakened virus takes hold,” he says.
Does coffee sober you up? If you thought drinking a cup of joe would sober you up or worse, make you fit to drive home, think again. “Alcohol will leave your system pretty much at a constant rate,” Dr. Holtorf explains. “When you drink coffee you may feel sober because you’re less tired and more alert, but you’ll still have the same amount of alcohol in your body.” Something to think about along with breathalyzer tests and DWI laws. And because caffeine dehydrates you, your hangover may feel much worse once it arrives.
Does gum stay in your stomach forever? The next time you accidentally swallow your gum, don’t panic; it won’t be stuck inside you forever. “And rarely will it stick to the sides of the wall because the stomach has a mucus lining,” Dr. Holtorf says. “So it should just pass through like anything else.”
Does reading in dim light affect your eyesight? Did you ever sneak a book to bed at night as a child only to be told that it was bad for your vision? Or perhaps your mom kept reminding you not to sit so close to the TV unless you wanted glasses in the future? Turns out neither one of these habits accelerates your eyesight’s decline. Reading in dim light or close up gets harder as you get older simply because your vision naturally worsens as you age no matter what you do, Dr. Holtorf says. Unlike pumping up the volume on your mp3 player, which can definitely cause hearing damage down the line.
Does cracking your knuckles cause arthritis? Not at all, says Dr. Holtorf. That sound you hear is nothing more than air bubbles escaping from your joints. “There’s no study to show there’s any destruction or swelling,” he adds. “At worse it’s annoying to somebody else.”