Breaking medical myths

Dr. Norman Dy, a program director of the St. Agnes Hospital, Baltimore, Internal Medicine Residency who has his own private practice, uncovered the truth about medical myths in a recent interview.

Q. If you swallow your gum does it really take seven years to pass through your system?
A. No, people think gum will get stuck to all the different things in our stomach but it doesn’t. Gum is primarily made up of sugar which gets broken down by the acids in your stomach.

Q. Does it hurt you at all?
A. No. Sugar-free gum, which has sugar substitutes, can cause diarrhea, though.
Q. Is chicken soup really good for you when you have a cold? Wouldn’t the sodium content dehydrate you?
A. Yes, it’s nutritious and it’s warm. When you drink it, it opens up your passages. The warmth and moisture of the soup helps to break down the mucus that your body makes. Not all chicken soup has a lot of sodium in it. For example the homemade chicken soup your grandmother would make doesn’t have much sodium in it. The amount of sodium in the “over the counter” soup will dehydrate you very minimally.

Q. If you are coughing why should you put your hands over your head? Does that really stop you from coughing?
A. It doesn’t really help. The theory is that when you do that with the position of your arms you may increase your vagal tone which might help subdue your cough, but it’s minimal.

Q. Why does it hurt when you hiccup for a long time? How do you stop them? Does holding your breath work?
A. We don’t know how to stop hiccups. The hiccup is considered to be a reflex to decrease an irritation to the diaphragm. There are medications to help decrease hiccups, and there are even surgical procedures that have been tried but haven’t been shown to work. Most of the remedies we do to get rid of hiccups have to do with allowing the body to resynchronize.

Q. If you crack your knuckles will you get arthritis?
A. No, not the case. It doesn’t make your fingers bigger either.

Q. If you go outside with wet hair when it is cold, will you catch a cold?
A. Not true. We are usually more susceptible to infections in the cold weather but not because of wet hair.

Q. Do you really need to drink eight glasses of water a day?
The more water the better, up to a point I would recommend eight glasses. Water is very useful to wash out the gunk in your system. Space your glasses out over 24 hours because drinking gallons of water in a few hours is bad. You absorb water faster than coke. Water moisturizes you and caffeine will dry you out.

Catholic Review

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