Amcal's Senior Pharmacist James Nevile has debunked 10 of the top health myths, ranging from the topical – 'The flu vaccine gives you the flu" – to the more unclear – 'I want to eat a healthier diet so I'm going gluten free".
Some of the most persistent health advice we come across in daily life is actually based on little more than old wives tales, rumours and half-truths.
To help combat the misinformation and spread good health, Amcal senior pharmacist James Nevile counters the most common health myths with fact.
'Don't get cold or go to bed with wet hair or you'll catch a cold" – Many people perpetuate this common myth linking the coldness of the air to the coincidence that colds are more likely in the winter months. The truth is, the only way to get a cold is if you have the virus in your system already. Simply being out in the cold, getting wet or going to bed with wet hair doesn't matter.
'The flu vaccine gives you the flu" – It's true that the influenza virus is included in the vaccine most of us get each year. But, unlike what many say, you cannot get the disease from the flu shot as the viruses included are actually killed and deactivated. Some people will develop flu-like symptoms for a short period following the injection, but that's as far as it goes, although your pharmacist is on hand should you need a second opinion.
'I'll get pregnant if I keep gravity on my side" – Studies show that 40 percent of women think they will be more likely to fall pregnant if they invoke gravity and keep their pelvis raised during or after sex. It's a logical conclusion to draw, but sadly gravity doesn't increase your chances of falling pregnant.
'You'll get arthritis if you crack your joints" – Good news for people who love to crack their joints, you can keep doing it without fear of aggravating or developing arthritis. Nay-sayers will tell you how it is bad for your bones to rub together (probably trying to dissuade you from the activity because they don't like the noise!), but you needn't worry. Despite what many think, the noise isn't due to bones rubbing together, rather the -pop' you hear is a result of trapped gas between the joints releasing. So feel free to click away, but consult a doctor if there is any pain associated with this activity.
'You need to brush your teeth after every meal" – It's important to rest your teeth after eating as that is when they are at their softest and most vulnerable. Brushing immediately after a meal isn't a good idea, despite what you might've heard growing up, and instead, wait at least an hour so you don't accidentally brush the enamel away with your food.
'It's easy to spot symptoms of type 2 diabetes" – Because type 2 diabetes is associated with lifestyle factors like a poor diet and obesity, many people assume it is easy to identify if they or someone they know has it. Unfortunately, this isn't true and many of the symptoms, such as frequent urination, increased hunger, mood swings, headaches, fatigue and blurred vision are commonplace and easy to overlook, while some sufferers experience no symptoms at all. In fact, up to 500,000 Australians have type 2 diabetes and don't know it, while another two million have prediabetes.
'I'm asthmatic, I think I know how to use my inhaler" – Almost no Australian asthmatics know how to use their inhaler effectively, with a study from the University of Sydney revealing 90 percent - or 2.25 million Aussie asthmatics - are incorrectly using their inhaler. Incorrectly using an inhaler is so common that Amcal pharmacies offer a free in-store technique check to help asthmatics get the best out of their device. Common missteps in inhaler technique include not using a spacer, not forming a solid seal around the inhaler with your lips and taking shallow breaths instead of the deep ones needed to get the medicine.
'Stay back, head lice can fly from person to person" – You won't want to get too close as head lice are transmitted via direct contact, but the idea that they can fly or jump from person to person is actually a myth.
'I want to eat a healthier diet so I'm going gluten-free" – For people with coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance, going gluten-free is absolutely the best diet decision, but following a gluten-free eating plan isn't inherently -better' for you if you don't have coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance. In fact, some gluten-free products can be worse for you than their gluten alternatives, like gluten-free bread that's actually made from refined starches. People swept up in the gluten-free craze without an intolerance or condition need to be careful as a gluten-free diet may lack essential vitamins, minerals and fibre.
'You need to feed a cold and starve a fever" – This one has been around forever, but couldn't be further from the truth. It doesn't matter if you have a cold, fever or another type of illness, your body needs energy to fight infection. That means it's as important to feed a fever as it is to feed a cold to give your body maximum sickness fighting abilities from plenty of nutrients, fluids and rest.
To get the facts when it comes to your health care speak to your Amcal pharmacist for the expert advice you need on a range of health concerns, or visit www.amcal.com.au.
If you are experiencing asthma symptoms or need help with the management of your asthma, speak with your GP and pharmacist for advice. To help asthmatics improve their inhaler technique and ensure accurate administration, all Amcal pharmacies offer tailored asthma inhaler labelling to pinpoint the specific step(s) that customers should focus on. For more information on inhaler technique checks or to find your nearest Amcal pharmacy, visit amcal.com.au/respiratory today.