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Old Wives Tales Debunked

Since the dawn of time, old wives tales have been giving us reasons for doing things a certain way, but have you ever wondered which ones are true? It is like the game of telephone- over the years the message has become so distorted that in the end it ceases to be accurate or helpful, especially in the case of health. When it comes to your kids’ health, we have a few old wives tales to debunk for you:

Feed a cold, starve a fever.

FALSE! According to, fevers and colds both cause fluid loss and missing meals can only make you lose important nutrients, making you sicker. No matter what the ailment, drink lots of fluids and try to eat regularly.

If you swallow bubble-gum, it will stay in  your intestines for 7 years.

FALSE! Our intestines and stomachs were made to dissolve things in a matter of days, certainly not years! Sticky gum is no match for the acid in our stomach lining, if it were it wouldn’t be safe to chew. It is a choking hazard, but in 7 years it will be long gone.

Wearing shoes will help a baby learn to walk sooner.

FALSE! Keeping a baby barefoot can actually strengthen their foot muscles, helping them learn to walk earlier than a toddler wearing shoes. If your child isn’t walking by 14 or 15 months, bring them to the doctor to find out if anything is delaying this milestone. They may be sent for an MRI or CT Scan to make sure the muscles are functioning properly.

Coffee stunts your growth.

FALSE! While coffee does contain high amounts of caffeine and will prevent your child from absorbing nutrients like calcium, it does not directly affect your child’s growth. This doesn’t mean you should take your 3 year old for a latte in their sippy cup, but it won’t cause them to be short.

Eating carrots will improve your eyesight.

FALSE! This actually started from British Intelligence boasting during World War II that they had the best pilots because they ate carrots for their night vision- -in reality they didn’t want to tell Germany that they were using radars. Carrots WILL help you maintain good eyesight because of the vitamin A, but they will not improve your vision.

If you cross your eyes, they’ll get stuck that way.

FALSE! Eye crossing does not lead to the condition called strabismus, which is when the eyes are misaligned. This condition is usually noticed early on with the help of a pediatrician and ophthalmologist. Crossing your eyes too much, however, can cause headaches and dizziness.

Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis.

FALSE! Cracking the knuckles won’t cause arthritis, but it can cause swelling in the hands and decreased gripping strength. This is why you may notice that your knuckles get larger over time if you crack your knuckles too much, it’s just swelling. If your child’s knuckles are becoming too enlarged, your doctor may order an x-ray.

Put butter on a burn. 

FALSE! Putting butter on a burn might seem like sound logic, it is, after all, cold and moisturizing, but it is actually very harmful for burns. When you put butter on a burn, you risk introducing bacteria that can potentially cause dangerous infections. It can also trap the heat in the burn which will cause a slower healing time. It can also be dangerous to apply Neosporin or other oily creams to a fresh burn for the same reasons.

While there are probably a thousand more myths and wives tales that you have heard, it is always important to do your research, especially when it comes to your child’s health. When in doubt, call your pediatrician.

Tower Radiology Centers practice has been Tampa’s most trusted since 1970. As the leader in outpatient radiology services throughout the Tampa Bay area, they are dedicated to the highest quality patient care utilizing state-of-the-art technology and recruiting highly trained radiologists. Their highly trained board-certified subspecialty radiologists provide unparalleled experience in outpatient diagnostic radiology, with specific training in Neuroradiology, Vascular & Interventional Radiology, Neurointerventional Radiology, Nuclear Medicine, High Resolution CT, Ultrasound, High Field and Open MRI, Women’s Imaging, Pediatric Radiology, Cardiothoracic Imaging, and Musculoskeletal Radiology.

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