July 10, 2014
10 Summer Debunked Myths
1. Going In and Out of Air-Conditioned Buildings Can Make You Sick
Big temperature swings don't make you vulnerable to colds. 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.
2. Don't Drink from the Garden Hose—It's Filled with Germs
"No germs live specifically in garden hoses," says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a professor of environmental science at the University of Arizona. But run the water for a few minutes anyway, to rinse off the hose nozzle—you never know what it's been sitting in.
3. Ease a Jellyfish Sting by Peeing on It
This idea was made popular by a classic episode of Friends. It's just not true. 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 white vinegar and hold it on the wound for about 30 minutes.
4. Stop a Wound from Bleeding by Dunking It in Saltwater
The sea is actually full of bacteria, which can enter your cut and cause sores and fever. Instead, spit on it. "A digestive enzyme in saliva can clean wounds and kill microorganisms," says dermatology professor Adnan Nasir, M.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Then apply a waterproof or liquid bandage, like New-Skin, to block bacteria.
5. If Water Is Stuck in Your Ear, Shake It Out
Congratulations! You've given yourself a headache. Your ear canal is curved, so shaking often isn't enough to release the water, says Michael Seidman, M.D., director of otologic and neurotologic surgery for the Henry Ford Health System, in Michigan. The better approach: After tilting your head so the waterlogged ear faces down, place the tip of your index finger in the cuplike spot at the bottom of your ear, and position your thumb behind the ear on the cartilage above your earlobe. Hold firmly and wiggle your ear to straighten the ear canal and dislodge the water.
6. If Threatened by a Wild Animal, Freeze
If running away makes you resemble frightened prey, just standing there says "frozen dinner." Michael Vaughan, Ph.D., a professor of wildlife science at Virginia Tech, advises acting like a big, threatening animal by opening your jacket or slowly waving your arms. Back away, and avoid eye contact. If you are attacked, grab a hefty tree limb and swing for the snout. One exception: Don't get tough with a grizzly. Roll yourself into a ball and play dead, and hope the bear just wants to play soccer.
7. Ignoring a Bug Bite Is the Best Way to Make it Go Away
It's true that scratching is the worst thing you can do. This will inflame immune-system messenger proteins at the site, intensifying the itch, says Dr. Nasir. But instead of doing nothing, hold an ice cube on the bite. "Low temperatures slow the body’s chemical reactions and make the skin's itch signals travel sluggishly to the brain," says Dr. Nasir. For nagging bites, use Campho-Phenique antiseptic solution, which calms itches with camphor.
8. Campfire or Grill Smoke Isn’t Dangerous
Smoke is smoke. It may smell like barbeque ribs, but that doesn't mean it's safe (neither are the ribs, for that matter). Particulates in smoke—no matter the source—can damage your lungs, says A. James Mamary, M.D., of the Temple Lung Center. Stay upwind and you'll be fine.
9. Running on the Beach Is Good for Your Feet and Legs
The benefits of barefoot running don't apply at the beach. Running on soft, uneven sand puts extra strain on the ankle and foot ligaments, which can lead to ankle sprains, stress fractures, and bone bruising, says Timothy Downs, D.P.M., a podiatrist in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. If you can't resist a beach jog, run on the harder, wet sand.
10. Hot Tubs Can Make a Man Sterile
Not if you have a normal sperm count, says Neil Baum, M.D., a urologist at the Tulane University school of medicine. However, if your sperm count is low, a hot tub will help keep it there and also make your boys slow swimmers. The fix: Keep the water temp lower than body temperature, about 97°F, or don't stay in longer than 10 minutes at a time.