Written by Timothy Okooboh
According to John F. Kennedy, a former US President, the greatest enemy of truth is not lie but myths.
Myths are different from lies. Lies are not generally accepted in society. But myths are false beliefs that are believed by many to be true. Therefore, they are stumbling blocks to growth and development.
Health myths are false beliefs about health that are believed by most people, especially the common man on the street, to be true. Believing and applying them can cause harm and prevent one from enjoying a healthy life.
The following are common health myths you should stop believing
Myth #1: Take antibiotics to flush your system after unprotected sex.
Reality⇒Taking antibiotics immediately after sex will not prevent you from having HIV or any sexually transmitted infection. If you really want to prevent infections, then use a condom.
Myth #2: Take painkillers before going to bed after every busy or stressful day.
Reality⇒You don’t need to take painkillers after every busy day. Just having a cool bath, eating a nice meal, and going to bed can make you wake up feeling refreshed. So, you shouldn’t abuse the use of painkillers as this may cause harm to the liver and kidneys after a long time.
Myth #3: If you and your partner have HIV, there’s no need for safe sex (using a condom.)
Reality⇒There’s still a need for safe sex between two HIV positive partners. This can help to prevent HIV re-infection. HIV re-infection means acquiring a different strain of HIV that may be resistant to drugs.
Myth #4: Supplements don’t have side-effects.
Reality⇒Supplements have side-effects. So they should be taken as prescribed. Also, If you take any medicine along with supplements, your doctor or pharmacist should be aware, because an interaction may occur between supplements and drugs that may cause serious side effects.
Myth #5: You should always take a drug to decrease your blood pressure (BP) after checking your BP and the value is higher than 120/80 mmHg.
Reality⇒ These days, there’re quacks who go about on the streets checking people’s BP and selling them drugs. Don’t let anyone fool you. You are only hypertensive if your BP remains persistently high. And only a doctor should prescribe medicines for your BP.
Myth #6: Whenever you take antimalarials always add an antibiotic.
Reality ⇒You don’t need to take an antibiotic along with your antimalarial medicine if there’s no need for it. It’s wrong to think that typhoid or any bacterial infection goes along with malaria.
Myth #7: If you take a medicine and it has a bitter taste or changes the color of your urine, then it’s effective.
Reality⇒This is a very funny assumption. Medicines do not need to have a bitter taste or change the color of your urine to be effective. Simple ways to test the effectiveness of medicines include: was it given by a pharmacist or doctor? has it passed its expiry date? is the color unusual? is the package damaged? etc.
Myth #8: Being HIV positive is a death sentence.
Reality⇒Being HIV positive isn’t an easy experience — taking drugs every day of one’s life. But the fact remains that HIV is not a death sentence. The patients can live healthy lives if they take their drugs daily, exercise, and eat healthy foods rich in fruits and vegetables.
Myth #9: HIV pregnant women will always transfer the infection to their newborn babies.
Reality⇒If the mother receives proper medical care during pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, and the baby receives proper medical care, then the risk of transferring the infection to the baby will be very low. It’s even better for the woman to see her doctor before getting pregnant so that she can receive proper advice and begin medical care on time.
Myth #10: It is not wrong to take drugs with alcohol.
Reality ⇒Taking drugs with alcohol is very bad. It can cause serious or even deadly drug interactions, hence should always be avoided.
Myth #11: Deodorants cause breast cancer.
Myth #12: Only old people get arthritis.
Reality ⇒This is not true. Arthritis also occurs in young people, including children. So a young person who is experiencing joint pain should not ignore the possibility of arthritis but seek medical attention.
Myth #13: You need to take supplements daily in order to be healthy.
Reality ⇒While it’s good to take dietary supplements, especially when recommended by your doctor or pharmacist, it’s not true that you always need supplements to be healthy. You can get all the nutrients your body requires from healthy diets — one rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. But if you lack a particular nutrient and it has been difficult to restore it with food alone, then it becomes necessary to take the appropriate supplement. But it should be recommended by your doctor or pharmacist.
Myth #14: Injections and infusions are better than tablets and capsules for treating illnesses.
Reality⇒If the illness is not an emergency case or you can still swallow drugs, then there’s no need demanding for injections. Simply cooperate with your healthcare providers and allow them to do their job.
Myth #15: You can stop taking your antibiotics as soon as you feel better.
Reality ⇒You should take your antibiotics for the entire duration it was prescribed because it’s very possible that some of the bacteria are still in your blood. If you don’t, the symptoms will rise again and the remaining bacteria in your blood may develop resistance to the antibiotic. This means that when you take the antibiotic again, it may not work.
Myth #16: Only psychotic/violent people have a mental illness.
Reality ⇒People with mental illness also include those with depression and anxiety. These people are not violent, but their feelings affect their normal daily activities. Therefore, they need medical attention too.
Myth #17: Take Flagyl® or tetracycline immediately you have diarrhea.
Reality⇒Taking Flagyl® or tetracycline whenever you have diarrhea is a misuse of antibiotics. Taking Zinc tablet and Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) to restore lost fluids is recommended. Antibiotics are only necessary if the diarrhea is due to an infection and the choice of antibiotics should be decided by your doctor or pharmacist.
Myth #18: ORS and Zinc tablets are only for children.
Reality ⇒ Dehydration is an issue mostly with diarrhea in children. However, ORS and zinc tablets are recommended for both adults and children.
Myth #19: Take 8 glasses of water daily in order to be healthy.
Reality⇒There’s no scientific evidence to support this claim. The amount of water intake varies by individual and depends on the level of physical activity, climate, etc. So the bottom line is, drink enough water to quench your thirst even if it’s more or less than 8 glasses a day.
Myth #20: Men don’t get breast cancer, only women do.
Reality ⇒ While breast cancer is common among women, it occurs in men too but it’s rare — about 1% of breast cancers occur in men. So if a man notices any strange thing with his breast, he should seek medical attention.
Those are some of the common health myths in our societies. There may be one or two of them that are believed by the people around you — neighbors, family, friends, colleagues, etc. So, help share this article and let’s debunk these myths together.
Are there other health myths you are aware of? You can leave your comments and questions below.