1. Myth: My immune system is healthy, so I don’t need immunization. Besides, vaccines are dangerous.
Truth: Vaccines work with your immune system to help you fight infection. A report of a potential link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been debunked over and over by scientific evidence. Vaccines are safe and effective, and our best protection against many infections.
2. Myth: I can stop antibiotics when I start to feel better.
Truth: Antibiotics take time to work completely against bacterial infections. You need to take the full course you are prescribed to be sure the infection is cured, even if you are feeling better. Stopping a course early can promote antibiotic resistance.
3. Myth: Antibiotics will make me better when I have a cold or the flu.
Truth: Antibiotics work against only bacteria. Most coughs, earaches, and sore throats and all colds and flus are caused by viruses. Antibiotics won’t help you recover from these infections.
4. Myth: Over-the-counter cough and cold medications cure infections.
Truth: Medications for fevers—by themselves or in combination with decongestants, antihistamines, and cough suppressants—don’t cure illness. They just help make the symptoms more bearable until your body’s immune system is able to fight off the virus. They may help you feel a bit better, but you could still be infectious to others. Cough and cold medications can be dangerous in young children, so they should be avoided.
5. Myth: I don’t need to worry about fever if it’s not too high.
Truth: Even a low-grade fever is often a sign that your body is fighting an infection. A fever with a cough or with vomiting and diarrhea or a rash can be a sign that your infection is contagious. You should stay home and call your health-care provider if your symptoms get worse.
6. Myth: I need to use dish soap with an antibacterial to be sure that my dishes are properly cleaned.
Truth: Plain soaps and detergents work just fine for washing dishes and clothes, cleaning your house, or washing your hands. Antibacterial agents in soaps and detergents may lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bugs in the environment, which could cause hard-to-treat infections.
7. Myth: Organic foods are safer for me and my family.
Truth: “Organic” doesn’t mean free of germs. In fact organic fruits and vegetables may have more risk of causing infection if they are not cleaned properly or cooked before you eat them.
Myth: Unpasteurized milk is healthier.
8. Truth: Unpasteurized milk has no documented health benefits over pasteurized milk, and it may put you and your family at risk of infections.
9. Myth: Pets such as cats and dogs are immune to infectious diseases.
Truth: Household pets can carry bacteria and can get sick from many types of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. To keep yourself and your family from getting an illness from your pet, always clean your hands after playing with pets or touching their food, toys, or sleeping areas, and before preparing food.
Adapted from Soap and Water & Common Sense, courtesy House of Anansi Press