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Guild Training Mythbusting Edition 1

By Kathy Gribble, Guild Trainer/Assessor

Medical myths, old wives tales and home remedies! We hear it all as a pharmacy assistants. The treatments options that some of our customers discuss and use can be interesting and sometimes worrying.

At Guild Training we want try to debunk some of these myths. All of these listed below I have heard over my time as a pharmacy assistant and trainer.

We hope you enjoy the first edition of Guild Training Mythbusting! Let us know what other myths we should debunk in the comments!

Myth 1: Feed a cold, starve a fever

This saying has been medical folklore for hundreds of years according to medical historians. You may have heard this from your grandparents or your ageing customers.

The research suggests that eating less during the early stages of an infection can actually be dangerous. When the body is combating a cold, it needs energy in the form of calories to fight off infection and recover. The catch? The same applies to a fever. The body’s demand for calories increases in both scenarios in order to produce immune cells that defend against an invading pathogen.

As well as feeding both the cold and the fever, we should also encourage our customers to increase their fluids like water and oral rehydration therapies.

Myth 2: Worms can cause an increase in appetite

A lot of parents and carers over the years have said “I think my child has worms because they’re eating me out of house and home”.

Well the research show no such truth to this, in fact it shows the opposite.

Common signs and symptoms of threadworm:

  • have an itchy bottom, which may become red and inflamed from scratching
  • be irritable and generally ‘out of sorts’
  • not sleep very well
  • have a reduced appetite
  • in girls, there may also be redness and itching around the vaginal area

As threadworm infections do not cause major health problems, they are usually not the cause of tummy discomfort.

Myth 3: Can you catch a cold from being cold?

Viruses, such as rhinoviruses and influenza, are the source of colds and flu, not the weather.

Research does suggest though that these viruses may survive and reproduce more effectively at colder temperatures, making it easier for them to spread and infect more people. The spreading of viral colds can also be contributed to the fact that we are generally inside more in colder weather, sharing our germs with friends and family.

On average an adult get two to four colds every year and children can get as many as five to ten every year. This suggests we need to continue to educate our customers on prevention. Vaccinations, cough etiquette, hand hygiene, adequate rest, hydration and eating a well-balanced diet (make it colourful) are all great prevention tips to avoid catching a cold or the flu.

Myth 4: Sitting on a cold floor gives you haemorrhoids

Has someone ever told you to place something under your bottom when you’re sitting on a cold floor? I know I was told this by my school teachers at high school as we ate lunch in the concrete jungle of our schoolyard.   

They thought they were protecting us from getting haemorrhoids. Luckily, this one seems to be a myth. A small initial study of 148 individuals with haemorrhoids, also known as Piles, in Germany found there was no direct correlation between sitting on a cold surface and getting haemorrhoids.

The main causes of haemorrhoids include:

  • straining on the toilet because of constipation
  • pregnancy, because of the extra weight and pressure on the bowels
  • hereditary factors
  • ageing
  • being overweight
  • spending long periods of time on the toilet
  • regularly lifting heavy objects

The interesting find in the study was that sitting on hard surfaces for long stretches of time may contribute to the development of haemorrhoids.

Sources available on request.

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