Dispelling common myths that “Mom’s Say”
“Don’t make that face—it’ll stick like that was one of my mom’s favorites,” says Karla Adams, Family Nurse Practitioner with Bingham Memorial Family Medicine in Blackfoot. “And even though I saw through that ploy to get me to settle down, she had other sayings that made me think twice before disobeying.”
Many adults today remember sitting a proper distance from the television to avoid going cross-eyed, drying their hair before going out in the cold so they wouldn’t get sick, and, after eating sweets, brushed their teeth so they wouldn’t fall out. “But, brushing your teeth at a young age was important because it helps kids establish healthy routines that carry with them into their adult lives,” says Karla.
Was there any truth to your mom’s words of wisdom? After some digging to see whether there was validity behind mom’s go-to phrases as well as some others heard over the years, here’s what Karla had to share.
1. Sitting too close to the TV will make you go cross-eyed
Verdict: Not true.
As much as moms everywhere would like to be able to threaten their kids with this one, it’s 100 percent false. Sitting too close to the television (even watching hours upon hours of the small screen) may lead to eye fatigue, but it won’t damage the eyes. Then again, “sitting too close to the TV may be indicative of having a hard time seeing,” says Karla. So if you notice your little one inching closer or squinting at the screen, have his or her eyes checked.
Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to limit screen time. Studies have shown that children who spend more than 10 hours a week in front of the television or computer have a higher chance of being overweight, aggressive, and slower in school.
2. If you don’t turn down that music, you’ll lose your hearing
This one’s true all around. Listening to loud music or other loud noises for as little as 15 minutes can lead to ringing in the ears called tinnitus and even temporary hearing loss. These usually clear up in a day or two. But prolonged exposure to loud noises can lead to a permanent loss of hearing.
One rule of thumb is, if you can hear the music from your headphones when they’re not in or on your ears, it’s too loud. You can also download a decibel meter app to your smartphone, such as deciBel for Android or Decibel Meter for iPhone.
3. Going outside in the cold with a wet head will make you sick
“It’s true, you do lose a lot of heat through the top of your head,” Karla says, “so wearing a hat will help you stay warm. But it won’t protect you from catching a cold. Colds are caused by viruses,” she says. “We probably see more in winter because they spread easier in cold weather and because people are in closer proximity.”
Mom was right about one thing, though. The key to warding off viruses is hand washing, hand washing, hand washing. Use soap and warm water, and wash for at least 20 seconds. No access to a sink? Choose a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
4. Thumb-sucking is bad for your teeth
Verdict: True…and false.
Opinions are mixed on this one. “Prolonged thumb-sucking isn’t good for your palate or teeth,” Karla says. “But in newborns, it’s perfectly fine.” She recommends discouraging the practice after 6 months of age.
Thumb-sucking won’t affect teeth, gums and the jaw until the child’s permanent teeth come in, according to the American Dental Association. However, after the permanent teeth come in, thumb sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. It can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth.
5. Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis
Some people who crack their knuckles do so to release tension in their joints, or to make them feel looser. And some do it out of nervous habit. But none of these people are doing long-term harm.
The sound you hear when someone cracks his or her knuckles is air being released from a cavity in the joint. The act cannot lead to osteoarthritis, which is a wear-and-tear condition characterized by loss of cartilage, the cushioning between bones. “And arthritis is usually caused by a hereditary element,” says Karla.
Some research, however, has found that knuckle-cracking can lead to the injury of a ligament or tendon dislocation, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. So crack at your own risk.
6. Feed a cold, starve a fever
Verdict: Sorry, Dr. Mom.
The origins of this one may be as simple as the fact that when people have fevers, they often lose their appetite. But not eating won’t make it go away any faster. In fact, eating regular meals and drinking fluids will energize your body to fight the infection and prevent dehydration.
7. Eating chocolate causes acne
Verdict: No saving face on this one.
Chocolate doesn’t lead to breakouts. “Acne is caused by bacteria and oil on skin, neither of which is caused by eating chocolate,” Karla says. Even though diet plays no role in acne treatment in most patients, Karla does advise patients who notice a reaction to certain foods to cut back or eliminate them from their diet.
“If you break out after eating chocolate, it’s probably not the cocoa’s fault. It’s more likely due to the fat and sugar,” she says. To get healthy skin, the Academy of Dermatology recommends eating a balanced diet, managing stress, protecting skin from the sun, moisturizing and not smoking.
Need a Family Medicine Specialist?
Karla Adams is a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and has been working in the medical field for more than 26 years. Karla specializes in family practice, caring for patients of all ages. Karla is welcoming new patients in Blackfoot and same day appointments are available.
To schedule an appointment, please call (208) 782-3990.
Bingham Memorial Family Medicine
315 W. Idaho Street
Blackfoot, ID 83221