When It Comes to Medicine, Mom Still Knows Best

Discussion in 'Doctors Cafe' started by Ghada Ali youssef, Jan 27, 2017.

  1. Ghada Ali youssef

    Ghada Ali youssef Golden Member

    Dec 29, 2016
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    In the current age of medicine, all decisions must be routed in a combination of the subjective and objective findings. The patient’s history combined with his/her labs allow a clinician to make a diagnosis and, in turn, a treatment algorithm. The room for gestalt, hunches, or a sixth sense is debunked along with snake oil sold at country fairs.

    But what about a mother’s supernatural ability to follow her instincts? Growing up, our moms would convey advice that to us sounded absurd or was rooted in an ulterior motive. But as time went on, and my time in medicine progressed, I began to realize that all those “mommy myths” had some very real scientific reasoning behind them.

    In an effort examine the credibility of certain “mom myths,” I sat down with a group of 10 current residents, asked them about the most random advice their moms would give, and then looked up the medical values. My findings proved that, in fact, mom knows best almost every time.

    Cold weather causes colds
    We all know that a cold is caused by a virus or bacteria. Therefore, it almost sounds counterintuitive when our moms tell us to bundle up in cold weather or to not wear flip-flops during winter. Well, it turns out mom was right about this one—keeping warm does prevent you from getting colds.

    In a recent study at Cardiff University, where participants were asked to plunge their feet into icy cold water for 20 minutes, actually had caught a cold 15% of the time more than the ones who didn’t. The reason is that when your body gets cold, it reflexively constricts blood vessels in areas that are considered extremities (i.e. your nose) to conserve heat. Constricted vessels cause the mucosa in your nose to be weaker allowing infections to take hold.

    So all those times on Halloween when my mom made me wear a coat over my Superman costume, it turns out that my “super powers” weren’t keeping me from getting sick. It was my mom.

    Salt water may be the right medicine for a cough
    It turns out even though we all know this works, we still would argue with our moms when they advised us to do this. Probably in favor of the ice-cream approach. But it turns out mom knows best, once again.

    A sore throat is caused by bacteria infecting the pharynx. In a randomized study published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2005, researchers recruited almost 400 healthy volunteers and followed them for 60 days during cold and flu season.

    The group was split into salt water gargling and no salt water gargling. At the end of the study, the salt water group had a 40 percent decrease in URI (upper respiratory infections) compared with the control group.

    An apple a day keeps the dentist away
    By replacing your candy intake with fruit, your mom wasn’t just trying to ruin your fun or get you to eat your broccoli. Mom knows best, simply because she has your best interests in mind.

    It turns out, eating too many sweets does cause cavities, as those simple glucose molecules, used by the bacterium strep mutans, creates an acidic environment that breaks down your enamel leading to dental caries and eventual root disease.

    So the next time your patient tells you something silly instilled in them since childhood, take time to examine the science behind it. Who knows? Maybe it’s something you can pass on to your kids.


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