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Hoodwinked by myths...

Reem Antoon

Guess what? If you wash your hair and go out you won’t catch a cold, and if you cross your eyes they won’t stick like that forever!

And if, like myself, you were told that you can get rid of your hiccups when you get startled then, like myself you have been hoodwinked!

It seems my mother was either telling fibs or she was too misinformed as she was being brought up.

However, today there is ‘google’ and so my two girls seem to be able to challenge my comments at every point and sadly or not I have come to find that some of these ‘myths’ are just that!

Take for instance the crossing of the eyes. “Apparently there is no harm in voluntary eye crossing,” says W Walker Motley, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

“But if you notice your child doing this a lot (when not mimicking a cartoon character), then they might have other vision problems.”

Then there is the hiccups myth.

Most home remedies, like holding your breath or drinking from a glass of water backward, haven’t been medically proven to be effective.

The other one is drinking warm milk to sleep. Well I just assumed my mother was right.

However, it seems that is not the case, well at least not with one glass of warm milk anyway.

Milk contains small amounts of tryptophan (the same amino acid in turkey), “but you would have to drink gallons to get any soporific effect,” says Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist in Scottsdale, Arizona, who specialises in sleep disorders.

Here are a couple more:

You should feed a cold and starve a fever.

The truth is: In both cases, eat and drink, then drink some more.

“Staying hydrated is the most important thing to do, because you lose a lot of fluids when you’re ill,” say Jim Sears, a board-certified paediatrician in San Clemente, California, who adds that there’s no need for special beverages containing electrolytes (like Gatorade) unless you’re severely dehydrated from vomiting or diarrhea.

Gum stays in your stomach for seven years.

The truth is: “As with most non-food objects that children swallow, fluids carry gum through the intestinal tract, and within days it passes,” says David Pollack, a senior physician in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Care Network. And even though gum isn’t easily broken down in the digestive system, it probably won’t cause a stomachache, either.

We may have been hoodwinked as children, but it seems today’s youngsters will no longer just take their parents’ words for it!

Reem Antoon is a former GDN news editor. She can be reached on:

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