Are you still a little worried about catching the flu from a vaccine, or venturing out into the sun without a base tan? You're far from alone. Plenty of old wives tales about your health are still very common. However, sometimes this folk wisdom is a bit misguided (or even can be dangerously wrong). On the flip side, if they are generally just making you more cautious and not affecting others, that's not a bad thing either. For the most part though, it's wise to take a second look at some of these widespread health beliefs.
Originating in superstitions, urban legends, and folklore, many common health myths are still prevalent. And for the most part, people who believe and share these ideas mean well. It's easy to hear something as a kid and continue to believe it into adulthood, especially when the idea makes logical sense. However, it's also refreshing to realize that swimming right after eating, for instance, isn't the worst thing ever. Learning the truth behind these common myths might make your life a little bit easier. At the very least, you'll feel OK about downing another slice of watermelon beside the pool.
So read on to learn the truth about everything from minor medical issues to more serious health concerns. It might change the way you look at cold and flu season, summertime vacations, and even lunch forever.
1. The Flu Shot Gives You The Flu.
This is a common misconception. Flu shot vaccines are made from inactivated flu viruses that are not infectious, or a single gene from the virus itself, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "This means you will not get the flu from getting a shot," said Chad Masters, regional medical director at MedExpress Urgent Care. But because the flu shot can produce minor side effects such as soreness, low-grade fever, or headaches, sometimes people confuse these for symptoms of the actual flu, as Masters further explained.
2. Tilt Your Head Back To Stop A Nosebleed.
This common bit of wisdom is not necessarily the best way to deal with a bleeding nose. "Tilting the head back during a nosebleed is not recommended because this position causes the blood to run backwards and down the throat," said Dr. Ben Lam in the South China Morning Post. Plus, blood flowing down the throat may cause choking or stomach irritation, as Dr. Lam further explained. Instead, it's better to lean the head slightly forward and very gently pinch the soft parts of the nose to stop a nosebleed, as explained in Harvard Health Publishing.
3. Microwaving Food In Plastic Is Unsafe.
Warm up your lunch without fear. For the most part, plastics listed as microwave safe are fine to use for reheating food, and they do not present any known health issues, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, plastic containers that are not specifically listed for use in the microwave, such as old butter tubs or takeout containers, can potentially leech chemicals into your food, as further explained by the Mayo Clinic. In these cases, it's safest to transfer your food into a clearly labeled microwave-safe container before heating it up.
4. Wait An Hour After Eating Before Swimming.
This rule has bummed out many kids at pool parties over the years. But in reality, swimming right after eating is not dangerous, according to Mark Messick, MD, in Duke Health. Even if you do get a cramp, it will likely be minor.
5. Stress Causes Ulcers.
In general, stress alone will not cause a peptic ulcer, although it can make the symptoms worse, according to the Mayo Clinic. And if you do get an ulcer, just remember that they are treatable with care from a doctor.
6. Going Outside With Wet Hair Will Give You A Cold.
Go ahead and skip the blow dryer. "In order to get an infection you need to be exposed to an infectious agent," said Dr. Pritish Tosh, an infectious diseases physician and researcher at the Mayo Clinic, in HuffPost. "Going out with wet hair is not going to cause an infection." Although it might feel uncomfortable in chilly weather, wet hair itself isn't going to make you sick.
7. A Base Tan Will Protect Against Sunburns.
Bust out the sunscreen. There's little evidence to suggest that a base tan will protect against future sunburns, according to the Mayo Clinic. In most cases, using a high SPF sunscreen is a much better way to guard your skin from burns, according to Bustle, and the most important thing is to keep reapplying regularly. Skincancer.org recommends every 2 hours. Although myths about base tans or damp hair may come from a well-meaning place, there's no reason to let these health myths guide your life.