Debunking Folks’ Medical Advice: Part 1

I have received and heard a lot of medical advices from my folks when I was growing up. And now that I have the title MD behind my name, I would like to weigh-in on some of those counsels. It is not my intention to be disrespectful to our elders, I would just like to examine if there is really medical truth on these ‘sage’ advices.

1. Huwag maligo kaagad kung galing sa trabaho o ehersisyo, at baka ikaw ay mapasma.

Don’t take a bath right after working or exercising, for it may cause “pasma” (sorry, no accurate English word for it, though the closest is “spasm”).

There is no medical truth to this. In fact most athletes take a shower after a strenous work-out. After working or exercising, your body heat production is high. This causes your blood vessels to dilate to dispense the heat, which make you look flushed, and your veins more visible. And I think the advice stems from the thought that bringing the body temperature drastically with a bath is harmful. But no studies have shown to support this.

It is then thought that a warm shower after a work-out is acceptable and probably will relax the muscles. But there has also been a practice by few elite athletes of taking an ice bath after an intense activity. The thinking is that the cold water will reduce the production of lactic acid (by-product of anaerobic muscle metabolism) and reduce muscle pain. Several studies published in sports medicine journal however have not shown benefits of the ice bath, but it has not shown ill effects also.

So with our current knowledge, taking a bath after work or exercise is not deemed harmful. For me it is more harmful not to take a shower, not to you, but to the health of others who have to smell and be suffocated by your body odor.

2.  Huwag maglaro o magtrabaho pagkatapos kumain, at baka ikaw ay ma-appendicitis.

Don’t work or play right after eating, because you might have appendicitis.

Appendix is a blind-ended tube connected in your cecum (part of large intestines). Appendicitis is inflammation of this organ when it is blocked by a fecalith. What  is triggering the blockage and subsequent inflammation is not very clear. However, it is definitely not by any activity right after a meal.

When we eat a meal, it takes 4-6 hours before our food leaves our stomach. Then the partially digested food particles will travel through more than 20 feet of small intestines, where most of it will be absorb. Whatever is left undigested will make it to the large intestines. So the food you eat now (or whatever is left of it), will probably arrive at the vicinity of the appendix by tomorrow. Not right after eating. You may feel sluggish though, especially after a large meal, as most of your blood circulation pools to your digestive system. So it may not be the best time to do your work-out also.

The bigger question is why do we have the appendix and what is the use of it. Nobody knows for sure, though some experts believe it contributes to the immune system. A research a few years back suggests that the appendix is a “safe house” for the good bacteria in the gut. If you ask my friends from surgery, they will tell you, that it is there for them to operate on.

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3. Huwag kumain ng manok, o ng pakwan, kapag may malaking sugat. Ang mga pagkaing ito ay malansa at baka hindi gumaling ang iyong sugat.

Don’t eat chicken or watermelon if you have a large wound. Those foods are “malansa” (sorry again for no exact English translation, though “fishy” is close, but in this context, “dirty” is more appropriate), and your wound might not heal well.

Wound healing is dependent on many factors, like adequate blood perfusion to the site, nutrition, absence or presence of infection and others, like proper wound care.

Chicken is a source of protein, which is needed as building blocks for growth and wound healing. As long as it is properly prepared and cooked, I don’t see any reason that it will hinder wound healing. Watermelon on the other hand is rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants which are vital not just for wound healing but for overall nutrition as well.

So go ahead and gorge on watermelons, even if you have an open wound. Unless your open wound is in the stomach or GI tract, then it’s a whole different discussion altogether.

4. Matulog nang maaga para mas lumaki ka.

Sleep early so you will grow more.

The science of growth is very complicated. The growth process depends on the intricate interplay of genetics, hormones, nutrition, exercise, and possibly sleep. One hormone that affects growth is the growth hormone, which is secreted by the pituitary gland. This is released throughout the day, but studies showed that in children, it is released more intensely during stages of deep sleep.

While adults needs 7-8 hours of sleep a day, children needs more than this. Kindergarten or younger kids, need 10-12.5 hours of sleep a day, and older elementary kids need 9.5-11.5 hours of sleep. Inadequate sleep can cause growth problems, including slowed or stunted growth. Recent studies also showed inadequate sleep to be related to obesity.

If you are an adult and is way beyond the growth period, I don’t think sleeping more than 12 hours a day will add any more inches to your current height, and may just earn you a label of being lazy. However, if you are really requiring more than 12 hours of sleep a day and still sleepy, it’s time to seek medical advice.

So does sending your kids early to bed make them grow more? Yes, even with my board certification in Sleep Medicine, I have to admit that my mother was right.

Do you know of other folks’ medical advice? Let us investigate them if there’s scientific truth behind them. However, I know knowledge is power, but only if we show repect that we gain wisdom.

4 thoughts on “Debunking Folks’ Medical Advice: Part 1

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