I am a hyprochondiac and an OC combined. It seems like a trivial combination, but it often becomes too ridiculous. This might have sprung from the fact that my mother died of a terminal disease that was diagnosed at a very late stage. The minute I feel something unusual, I rush to the doctor to have some lab tests done. I wouldn’t eat pineapples because of its citric content, not knowing that its bromelain would actually help my reflux. I wouldn’t drink certain meds for fear that their bad for my kidney. It didn’t help that information is always available, I would google the symptoms I feel, agonizing that I have acquired and contracted certain viruses even from the most mundane activities I do in my everyday life.
It was only recently that I started banishing these unfounded health myths such as:
Myth: The rainy, cold weather causes the common cold and the flu.
Calling colds colds doesn’t help. Since we tend to get sick more often when the weather swings from dry to rainy in the monsoon months, we immediately assume that it is the weather’s fault. A study of the New England Journal of Medicine showed that cooler temperatures do not increase the likelihood or severity of a cold. Colds and flu are spread by direct contact and not by the damp weather. You must be directly coughed or sneezed on to be infected. Or you have to handle something with the virus on it and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. The truth is, we do tend to get sick the most when people are crammed indoors because that’s when we are in close contact with the germs the most. The easiest but the most effective solution is to always wash your hands.
Myth: Your silver tooth fillings endanger your health.
A long-running news magazine show in the US questioned the safety of amalgam used as dental fillings because it is a mix of mercury, copper, silver and tin. A few years after, several consumer activist organizations asked the US Food and Drug Administration to consider banning the use of amalgams.
There were studies that showed that exposure to pure mercury is toxic to the nervous system. After that, people then became convinced that mercury in their mouths caused everything from migraines to multiple sclerosis. They had their dentists removed their silver fillings and replaced them with a toothcolored composite made from powdered glass or resin. In 2006 though, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no difference in memory, attention or other neurological functions when they compared people with silver fillings to those with tooth colored fillings. Fact is, mercury bonds with the other metals to form a stable mixture, and studies show that the amount of mercury released by amalgam is so small that it’s measured in billionth of an ounce. It would take an estimated 500 fillings before it could affect your health. For now, the FDA’s expert panel says further study is needed as there is no scientific data proving that silver fillings are unsafe.
Myth: You can die from using tampons.
This I heard from my aunt. Years ago (when my parents were younger), P and G created a brand of super tampons called Rely. which was made with a highly absorbent kind of cellulose and polyester. The combination, unfortunately, turned out to be very lethal. Its super absorbent properties also caused vaginal dryness. It also absorbed the natural humididty of the vagina, which led to ulcerations in the vaginal wall. It provided a pathway for the bacteria to enter the bloodstream. When it came into market, 813 menstrual related toxic shock syndrome cases were reported, including 38 deaths (according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) The brand Rely was recalled in 1980 and cellulose/polyester combination was never used again for tampons.
Although tampons users are at increased risk of TSS compared to users of sanitary pads, tampons, when properly used should not cause death. To avoid TSS risks, like with sanitary pads, change your tampons every 4 hours.
I can’t help but laugh at myself remembering some of my worries. I realize that it’s alright to be cautious, but paranoia is something else. The best thing to do, as always, is to consult your doctor. Be prepared, though, for he or she might end up laughing for a few minutes after your consultation. Mine did.