Medical Facts and Fiction
A myth-busting MD takes on common health misconceptions.
With the seemingly endless stream of health information available on the internet, it can sometimes be difficult to know which resources to trust.
“Believing medical information that isn’t true can be detrimental to your health,” said Shanail Berry, MD, internal medicine, pediatrics and weight management specialist at MetroHealth. Here are some of the most common myths Dr. Berry sees in her practice:
Myth 1: The flu shot can cause the flu.
Busted: The flu shot contains either an inactive virus or a small portion of a virus that prompts the body to produce antibodies that then fight the flu. “Some people may feel under the weather after a flu shot, because they are experiencing a reaction to having foreign antibodies circulating in their body, but this is not the flu,” said Dr. Berry.
Myth 2: Colder weather causes pneumonia.
Busted: Pneumonia is caused by fungus, virus or bacteria infecting the lungs. The condition is more common in the late fall and winter months because people are indoors more, spreading germs more easily.
To prevent pneumonia, Dr. Berry recommends washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough and getting the flu shot – the flu is the most common viral cause of pneumonia. The pneumococcal vaccine is also available to young children and older adults, as well as adults with certain chronic medical conditions. That shot helps protect against a common cause of bacterial pneumonia.
Myth 3: I have to drink eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated.
Busted: This rule isn’t exactly based on scientific data. Much of the water you consume daily is found in fruits, vegetables and other beverages. Your body size, how much you exercise and whether you have underlying health conditions such as heart failure (in which case you may want to limit water intake) influence the amount of water you need.
“A good ground rule is to drink when you’re thirsty and when you are performing strenuous activities,” said Dr. Berry. Drink more when its hot outside and remember that liquids with caffeine can make you dehydrated.
Myth 4: Skipping meals is the best way to lose weight.
Busted: For many, skipping meals can make the body less efficient at burning calories, so this approach to weight loss may actually cause you to put on pounds. Healthy eating plans need to be individually tailored. Take into account how active you are and what you traditionally eat. This can be achieved by talking with a nutritionist or a weight loss specialist. “There is no one size fits all when it comes to weight loss plans,” said Dr. Berry.
Whether you need a yearly physical or walk-in sick care, we have you covered. For a list of options near you, or to schedule an appointment online, visit metrohealth.org/care-now or call 800-554-5251.
Shanail Berry, MD
Internal Medicine, Pediatrics & Weight Management Specialist