The internet is a great resource, but one thing that it doesn’t come with is a manual on what information you should trust, and what information you shouldn’t. The internet, especially since the days of COVID-19, has been rife with medical misinformation, and it’s spread far and wide through social media. Unfortunately, some of these misconceptions about medicine can be dangerous and are better cleared up for the safety of all.
10. The Higher Percentage Of Rubbing Alcohol, The Better The Sanitizing Power
When the pandemic hit, the stores were soon running out of cleaning products and disinfectants of all kinds. Among other things, rubbing alcohol became extremely hard to find, as many people wanted it to disinfect surfaces for COVID-19. While it’s good that people were taking anti-viral precautions, some observers noticed that whenever anything was remaining, it was usually a decent stock of 70% rubbing alcohol, with the higher percentages being mostly unavailable. Now, you’d think this would make sense, as it sounds like a higher percentage of alcohol would kill more viruses, but this is a common misconception.
The truth is that for disinfecting regular surfaces you want 70% alcohol, and not the 90% or higher stuff. The reason for this is that rubbing alcohol still needs some water to spread around the surface area and have some time to kill germs before it evaporates completely. However, that doesn’t mean the higher percentages don’t still have their uses. They are often recommended for electronics, where you would rather sacrifice cleaning power, to use as little moisture as possible.
9. Once You Get A Transplanted Organ, Your Problems Are Mostly Solved
In movies, TV, and every other form of media on the planet, it’s a common storyline to have someone who needs a transplant for a lifesaving organ. They may be low on the list, or have some other issue holding them up. The drama of the story is usually set around getting them the organ, after which we’re led to believe they now live happily ever after. Unfortunately, while it would be great if this were true (and it may be one day), it’s currently not the case.
The unfortunate reality is that no matter how close a match, a transplanted organ will require you to take drugs that suppress your immune system for the rest of your life. This is because your body will try to attack the new organ, thinking it’s an invader. A “match” makes it possible for drugs to hold this back, but it does not stop you from needing them. You can also get a version of diabetes called diabetes mellitus due to the drugs you have to take.
8. You Can Get The Flu From The Flu Vaccine
It’s a matter of fact that a lot fewer people get the flu shot every year than people who get their regular booster shots and other vaccines. Some people say it’s mostly for older people, younger kids, or people with weakened immune systems. They’ll say they can handle a case of the flu just fine, and that it could even give them a small case, if anything. They don’t want that risk, so they avoid it. Some even argue the shot is mostly ineffective, and doesn’t usually work.
However, most people’s excuses are complete bunk. For starters, you cannot get the flu, even a small case of it, from the flu vaccine. The parts of the flu that are in the shot are dead, and cannot suddenly come back to life. You can indeed get a few mild symptoms that are often associated with the flu, which may last a few hours or days, which is why people are confused.
As for the rest of the misconceptions, we’ll take them one at a time. Everyone six months and up should get the flu shot; the lost productivity from the flu is way worse than a few vaccine side effects; and while it may not work, each year’s vaccine is targeted to hit the flu strain expected to be the biggest problem that season.
7. You Can Suck Venom Out Of A Wound
A popular trope in fiction is the old venomous wound, wherein someone tries to suck the venom out to save the afflicted person. This goes back to, for example, the stories of Sherlock Holmes, where it’s used for a plot with a mistaken vampire. It also probably goes back much, much further. It’s an incredibly common trope, is what we’re saying.
It’s become so prevalent in popular culture that a lot of people consider it gross and scary, but real and grimly necessary. There are even extractor devices designed to pull venom from a wound, and most would be surprised if they found such devices being sold when they don’t actually work.
However, the truth is that the venom from most animals doesn’t work as fast as movies would have you believe, and surprisingly few people die from venomous animals each year. What you really need to do is get victims to a hospital as quickly as possible and get them anti-venom. Sucking venom from a wound will not get it out faster than the person’s body can pump it through the blood, and you could poison yourself if you have a cut in your mouth. As for those extractor pumps, scientific studies have proven that they are not effective.
6. Stabbing Adrenaline In Someone’s Heart Is Great For An Opioid Overdose
Pulp Fiction is a classic movie, and anyone who has seen it well remembers the scene where John Travolta races to his drug dealer with an overdosed Uma Thurman, and then stabs her dramatically through the heart with an adrenaline needle. Apart from stabbing her through the heart, he also doesn’t need to push down the plunger, presumably because pushing it through the heart just gets it all done that much faster.
Unfortunately, while the scene is fun, it’s pretty much all wrong. While sometimes an injection in the heart, known as an intracardiac injection, is necessary, there’s no reason to think it would be needed in this case. It’s also done slowly and carefully through the ribcage by a trained medical professional. If you were using an adrenaline needle, you would actually usually use the thigh. However, in this case, you would not want to use adrenaline at all, as Uma’s character was overdosing on opioids. What you would want to use is Narcan, which often comes in a nasal spray today, making delivery much easier. If you want to speed things up, you would follow up the Narcan with CPR.
5. Glasses Are Magic Goggles That Fix All Eye Problems
Vision problems are common around the world, and basically everyone either wears or knows someone who wears specs. For the most part, people understand what glasses can and can’t do; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone understands eye problems. Some people will get confused when they meet someone who isn’t fully blind but is not wearing glasses to improve their vision. There’s a common misconception that glasses can fix all (or most) eye problems outside of blindness, and a general misunderstanding of what it means to be “legally” blind.
Unfortunately, the truth is that a lot of people with extremely low vision have problems that glasses simply cannot do anything for, and for the most part, science can’t do much to alleviate those issues. Among these are things like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, sun damage, nerve damage of any kind, and many more. Scientists are trying to find ways to help these people, but most of it is very experimental.
As for being legally blind, it’s easiest to compare it to a normal, sighted person. Someone who has normal vision can see an object that’s 200 feet away from, well… 200 feet away. Seems obvious enough, right? Well, to see that same object, a legally blind person would need to be 20 feet away.
4. Feed A Cold, Starve A Fever
This is an old saying that can be traced back to a 1574 dictionary by John Withals. Like many folksy sayings, it has become a part of culture in some areas, where it was passed down from parent to child. Some people still take the saying seriously to this day, and most imagine, even if they don’t know medical science, that it must have some kind of reasoning behind it. After all, colds are minor bacterial infections, and the flu is a virus, so it makes sense to treat them differently, right?
Well, perhaps in some respects, but not in this particular case. The truth is that there is absolutely no scientific rationale for starving someone who has a fever, or a virus of any kind. Whether it’s a cold, fever, broken leg, or any medical problem, keeping someone well-fed, rested, and watered is crucial. So if you are trying to remember how this phrase should go, it would be “feed a cold, feed a fever.”
3. Going To The Hospital In An Ambulance Will Get You Seen Faster
Some people, in the hopes of getting seen at the hospital quicker, will call the ambulance when they have other ways of getting there. While this may sound selfish, most people are not exactly thinking straight when they’re in a crisis and worried for their lives, or the lives of their loved ones. They’re just trying to get medical care in a bad situation. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause problems or isn’t a huge pet peeve with medical personnel.
The thing is, this popular idea is completely untrue and a total misconception of how the medical system works. The purpose of an ambulance is to bring someone in who doesn’t have another way to get there or needs some kind of care to keep them alive on the way to the hospital. It does not matter how you arrive, you will be seen based on need. This is called triage. It can also cause problems for others, as it can tie up important resources that may be needed for others. The bottom line is if you can get to the hospital safely another way, and you know you can make it in time, you don’t need the ambulance.
2. Defibrillators Are Magic Heart Restarting Paddles
Medical dramas probably reuse this trope more than any other in their playbook. We all know the scene so well we could recite it from memory. An individual is flatlining and there’s only one thing to do: break out the defibrillator paddles. Someone yells “Clear,” we hear the sound of rushing electricity, and the paddles are pressed against the person’s chest. This is repeated until they wake up. The doctor may throw in a couple of lines like, “damn you, you aren’t dying on me!” for added dramatic effect.
Now, while these scenes make for great, dramatic television, they aren’t exactly based on reality. A 2014 study of dozens of resuscitation scenes from movies and television found that there were a lot of issues across the board. In general, they found that it all presented a missed opportunity to educate the public. Defibrillator paddles are commonly misunderstood for this reason, but they are not magic heart-restarting paddles. If someone’s heart rhythm is wrong they can shock it back to normal, but they do not restart a truly stopped heart.
1. You Should Stick Stuff In The Mouth Of A Seizing Person So They Don’t Bite Their Tongue Off
Seizures are a fairly common medical trope as well and also make for great drama in your favorite doctor shows. Looking at you, E.R. and House. Sometimes people will even dramatically try to get something in between a seizing person’s teeth without getting their fingers bit off, to save the afflicted person from potentially biting off their tongue. This is a common misconception, and it’s important to know that it is not how you should do things, in case you ever do end up in a situation with a seizing person.
If someone has a seizure, one of the most important things is that you keep their airways clear. This means you should avoid doing anything that might get in the way of their breathing, such as sticking stuff in their mouth. Also, you cannot bite off your tongue, although you can painfully bite it and cause a nasty sore, which is why people are confused. What you should actually focus on, apart from clear airways, is making sure they don’t have anything they can hurt themselves on, time their seizure, and call for medical help if necessary.