7 Summer Health Myths

We’re all about the priceless value of what your mothers taught you, but here are some timely examples of things you’d best forget. If it makes your mom feel any better, one of the first things they teach in med school is  “half of what you learn here will turn out to be wrong. The problem is, we don’t know which half.”

1) Fruit juice and lemonade don’t count towards hydration in warm weather.

~ All fluids count, including those containing caffeine, but none are as good as water. If you’re out exercising in the heat for long periods (more than an hour) you can lose electrolytes, so mix water and a sports drink 50/50.

2) To cool a burn, put ice on it and then cover with a greasy ointment.

~ Ice will do additional damage to burned tissue, and thick ointments interfere with healing. Rinse the burn in cold water until the pain stops, then leave it uncovered. ALWAYS leave a blister intact to speed healing.

3) Tilt your head back to stop a nosebleed.

~ This will just make you swallow a bunch of blood. Instead, pinch the nose just below the nasal bone and apply pressure for 3 – 5 minutes until bleeding stops.

4) Swimming on a full stomach will lead to cramps and drowning.

~ There has never been a confirmed case of drowning caused by swimming after a meal. When your stomach is full of food, blood flow IS diverted away from your muscles. Swimming may be uncomfortable, but there’s no danger … as long as you know how to swim in the first place.

5) Babies shouldn’t use sunscreen, and dark skinned people don’t need to.

~ Babies over 6 months should use sunscreen with at least 30 SPF. Even better, avoid exposing them to the sun since young skin burns easily. Dress them in light, long-sleeved clothing and brimmed hats, and apply 30+ SPF to exposed areas 30 minutes before going out in the sun.

~ Dark skinned people have more melanin (pigment) in their skin, so they don’t burn and turn red as easily as those who are light skinned. BUT they still get sun damage and are at risk for skin cancer.

6) Poison oak/ivy is contagious.

~ The rash is caused by an allergic reaction to the oil on the leaves, called urushiol. 70% of the population is allergic and it’s determined by your genes. However, the oil is passed easily from person-to-person and from object-to-person. Check here for more info on the poison plants and treatment suggestions.

7) Dark tinted sunglasses provide more protection than lighter tints.

~ UV eye protection is independent of tint. Look for the percentage of protection from UV A and UV B rays. The worst case scenario is a dark tint with poor UV protection. It makes the pupils dilate and allows lots of light in. Remember that sunglasses with good UV protection are important for the tiny kiddos, too.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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One response to “7 Summer Health Myths”

  1. Leah

    Water is certainly the best! I think a squeeze of lemon (not sugar, and not from a mix) is a good way to stay hydrated, because it makes the water more delicious (therefore you drink more) AND a little bit of electrolytes help!
    Thanks for dispelling those myths!

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