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Medical Myths

October 20, 2007

During my rounds with doctors while writing for Times Wellness, there were several medical ‘myths’ which I collected and these are given below. All have been passed on to me by doctors, but were never used in any published article.

PEDIATRICS
Myth: Wrap up a child with fever.
This is an is an old wives’s tale. Wrapping makes the fever worse, while a bath may well bring down the fever. One should use lukewarm water.
Myth: A vigorous massage is a must for newborns.
It’s the touch stimulus which is important, and the gentle touch of the mother or grandmother is needed. In fact an untrained bai’s massage which is often rough, should be avoided.
(Dr. Rahul Verma, Pediatrician)

GYNECOLOGY
Myth: There is weight gain after the removal of the uterus, a tubectomy, a ceasarian or an insertion of a Copper T.
The excess weight is caused by over-eating and lack of exercise. People believe that after these surgeries they are somehow handicapped for life and they take excessive care of themselves. To them this means eating fatty food and not exercising.
Myth: Uterine surgery has permanent after-effects.
Once healed, you can lead a normal life. The ovaries are left intact so hormones are not affected.
Myth: White discharge is a sign of cancer
There are many reasons for white discharge and cancer is an uncommon cause.
(Dr. Chhaya M. Choudhary, Gynecologist)

DENTISTRY
Myth: Milk teeth are not important.
If milk teeth are neglected and they have to be removed, then this can affect the permanent teeth and this may require orthodontic treatment later on.
Myth: Loss of teeth in mid-thirties is inevitable.
As far as possible the tooth needs to be saved, nothing is inevitable. Removing a tooth can affect the remaining teeth.
(Dr. Leena Nayak, dentist)

ORTHOPEDICS
Myth: Calcium can be taken without prescription
Calcium is not really an OTC drug, though it is freely available over the counter. It should only taken only on prescription, and the dosage and formulation will depend on one’s age and bone health. For example, younger people need a different formulation. Older people might need to get tests done. Also, if osteoporosis has already set in then the calcium to be taken is different. Besides, the calcium needs to be taken on a particular regimen. Popping pills whenever one feels like it is not very useful.
Myth: Calcium causes kidney stones.
Kidney stones are caused by a mix of genetic and external factors like fluid intake, diet etc. Kidney stones are not caused by calcium tablets.
(Dr. Narresh M. Khanna, Orthopedic Surgeon )

Related Reading: Myths about our skin
Myths about our eyes
Myths about our ears

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Padmini permalink
    October 20, 2007 4:49 pm

    Wrapping up a child (or adult) who is running a high fever is probably the worst thing to do according to doctors today. I have been advised to turn the fan on and use cold compresses to bring the fever down immediately. The patient may complain but as far as I know, this is the way to go although my mother would not agree.

  2. October 20, 2007 6:54 pm

    Informative post Nita.

  3. October 20, 2007 9:28 pm

    Thanks a lot the response prerna and padmini. I am out of town and therefore could not reply earlier!
    Thanks again. :)
    will be back in mumbai on monday
    have a good weekend!.

  4. October 21, 2007 10:41 am

    Another, possibly more important myth regarding fever is that you should bring the fever down with Paracetamol (Crocin, Tylenol, etc.). This is just the thing NOT to do. Death due to infections is significantly higher in patients who are prescribed antipyretics. Fever is a protective response, whence the body fights germs better.

  5. October 21, 2007 11:49 am

    Thanks doc. I hate taking these crocins and aspirins myself. I have read this, about how the fever is the immune system’s response to infection and that it helps the body. Thanks for explaining.
    But I guess when there is very high fever, like above 104 degrees, one needs to do something drastic…

  6. lchxian permalink
    November 7, 2007 11:28 am

    I Don’t agree completely with Rambodoc. There is a role of antipyretic in children.

    Fever is not an illness, it is just a symptom/sign of a particular illness. Therefore it is important to find the cause of fever in children (ie urine tract infection, respiratory tract infection, Malaria, etc). Giving antipyretic blindly without knowing the underlying cause of fever obviously can lead to harm.

    However, children with fever can feel really uncomfortable. Antipyretic have a role in making the child feel more comfortable, relieving unnecessary suffering.

    Children should NEVER take ASPIRIN, there is a risk of Reye’s Syndrome, which can cause death.

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