Mother thought she knew best when you were growing up, but even the most informed and well-meaning mothers sometimes gave us advice that we later discovered wasn’t quite right. AFC/Urgent Care Danbury made a list of some of the most popular pieces of motherly health tips and evaluated them to uncover what was fact and what was mere fiction. Read on to find out which tips are fact and which ones were well intended, but perhaps not quite accurate:
1. Put hydrogen peroxide on that scrape:
Fact or Fiction: A little bit of both. While hydrogen peroxide does kill harmful bacteria, it can also delay healing by killing healthy cells. Clean water is better for most cuts and scrapes, unless there is a lot of dirt in the wound. And hydrogen peroxide should never be used on a deep puncture wound. If you’re unsure, clean the cut with water and call your doctor!
2. If your mucus is green you need antibiotics:
Fact or Fiction: Yes and No. Yes, you’re sick when you have green mucus. That much is still true. But antibiotics aren’t necessarily the cure. If your infection is viral, antibiotics are useless (although if it’s bacterial, the antibiotics could help — ask your doctor).
3. Don’t go out with wet hair, you’ll catch a cold!
Fact or Fiction: Fiction! Catching a cold has nothing to do with the weather outside, and everything to do with the bacteria you’re exposed to. Many people confuse correlation with causation, and in this instance, moms everywhere were confusing the fact that colds become more common during the winter with a causal relationship! But colds and other illnesses are easier to catch in the winter because people tend to spend more time inside, hanging out around other people’s bacteria. You can rest assured that the only thing you’ll catch when you go out with wet hair is a bad hair day!
And while we’re on the subject:
4. Vitamin C helps prevent colds
Fact or Fiction: Fiction. Yes, you need vitamin C (scurvy, anyone?). However, vitamin C will not prevent or cure a cold. Dozens of studies have found that taking vitamin C doesn’t do anything to prevent the duration or frequency of the colds you’ll inevitably get. Hand washing, on the other hand, will go a long way toward keeping you healthy.
5. Drink your milk. It will build strong bones!
Fact or Fiction: We’re not sure yet. Physicians generally agree that cow’s milk is healthy for children, but they caution that it should never be a meal replacement, even for infants. Some studies have also found that too much cow’s milk can lead to iron deficiency anemia and malnutrition in children. This is because too much milk can cause microscopic tears in the digestive tract, leading to blood loss. So, while milk provides a big calcium boost that’s important for building strong bones, be careful not to consume more than the daily recommended amount.
And while we’re on THAT subject:
6. Drink a glass of milk at night to make you drowsy
Fact or Fiction: Total Fiction. Sorry moms, warm milk won’t make you drowsy. Sure, there are trace amounts of tryptophan in milk (the same sleepy stuff famously found in turkey), but way too little to make a difference. There’s actually more tryptophan in eggs and cheese than milk, but you don’t fall asleep over your breakfast sandwich, do you?
7. Sitting too close to the TV will damage your eyes
Fact or Fiction: Somewhere in between. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has agreed that sitting too close to a TV will not damage your eyes. This was the case in TV sets made before the 1950s, which released tiny amounts of radiation, and actually had a small potential to damage your eyes if you were too close to them. TVs today are made with shields that prevent this radiation from being released. This comes with a caveat, though; sitting too close as you grow older can cause eyestrain. Children are better able to focus on things close to their faces when they’re younger, but as they mature, their eyes become more susceptible to strain after long periods of looking at close objects.
8. If you keep making that face, a strong wind will come by and freeze it!
Fact or Fiction: Sort of! Mom was probably being a little overdramatic. She said this in an effort to get you to stop making crazy faces in front of company. But it has a grain of truth. The faces we make most often start to become etched into our features in the form of wrinkles. It’s a normal, if unpleasant, side effect of aging.
Mom gave us a lot of advice in the process of raising us, and while it might not have all been perfect, it was given with lots of love and good intentions. So, thank your mom for trying, and take some time to talk to her about the best health advice she gave you. Let her down easy on her debunked health tips though!