Family health myths
Friday 22nd August
We bring you the truth behind eight common health myths which can affect all the family – from childhood illnesses to general diet and keeping healthy as you get older.
Head lice can jump
Incorrect. Head lice don’t jump or fly, they move by crawling - getting from one host to another through direct head-to-head contact. They will soon die when they are away from hair, and do not live in bedding, hats or other clothes. It’s also important to note that head lice can affect all types of hair, regardless of condition, cleanliness and length.
Find out more about symptoms, treatment and prevention of head lice here: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Head-lice/Pages/Introduction.aspx
You shouldn’t give a vaccine to a child who has a cold
This is a myth. You don’t have to delay your child's vaccination if they have a mild illness such as a cough or cold, as long as they do not have a fever. If your child is suffering from a fever (or high temperature) however, you should consult your GP regarding postponing the jab. This is because the fever can make it difficult to tell whether the child is having an adverse reaction to the vaccine. If you do need to postpone, ensure that you remember to reschedule the vaccination as soon as you can. For more information on childhood vaccines visit: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/health_advice/facts/childhoodvaccinations.htm
Once you’ve had chickenpox everybody is immune from it for life
Unfortunately, this is not true. Chickenpox is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. When you have chickenpox, your immune system makes antibodies which fight the virus and then provide lifelong protection against it. Whilst most people are then immune from further chickenpox infection for the rest of their lives, some people may not develop enough antibodies the first time around and can then catch it again.
Find out more about chickenpox here: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chickenpox/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Children don’t experience mental health illnesses
This is a myth. Statistics from the Mental Health Foundation show that approximately one in ten children and young people are affected by mental health problems. This can include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder - and can often be as a direct response to what is happening in their lives (such as school stress or bullying.)
If you feel your child may be suffering from a mental health condition, there are a range of people who can help - for example a school nurse or school counsellor. Alternatively your GP will be able to advise and may refer your child for further help. Find out more information here: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/C/children-young-people/
Feeding your family healthy food costs a lot more
Untrue. Healthy foods are not necessarily more expensive than their unhealthy alternatives. You can pay much more for a high-fat ready meal, than you would if you bought fresh ingredients and made the meal yourself. Buying canned, dried, or frozen vegetables can also be a cost effective way to ensure you get a balanced diet with less waste. For tips on how you can get an affordable but healthy diet take a look at this article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22263706
I never really exercised before so it’s too late to make a difference in my health
This is myth. Exercise at any age (and no matter how late you start!) will help improve your overall health – both physical and mental. Any exercise is better than none and it can have major benefits on your health and wellbeing. You just need to ensure however that you don’t push yourself too hard if you haven’t exercised in a while. Check out these tips on how to get more active: http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/prevention/staying-active.aspx
Depression is a normal part of the aging process
This is not true. It is not simply part of the aging process to feel depressed and if you do experience symptoms then you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. Depression can affect anyone of any age and whilst older people may be more vulnerable to factors such as being widowed or divorced, having a physical disability or illness, or feeling lonely, this doesn’t meant that is it normal symptom of getting older. Find out more about mental health in later life and how you can get help here: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/O/older-people/
Older people can’t learn new things
False! The old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new things” is simply not true. Older people don’t completely lose the ability to learn things and by broadening your scope of knowledge or trying new things, you can reap benefits to your health in a variety of ways. The more you use your brain as you get older (i.e. quizzes, crosswords, reading), the more you can help counter the development of age-related decline in memory, for example. Take a look at this information from charity Age UK on education and training in later life: http://www.ageuk.org.uk/work-and-learning/further-education-and-training/
This article has been brought to you using public health information freely available online (click on links in the article for more information). benenden health has not provided any direct medical advice within this article. Please consult the sources provided if you would like further information or support.