Doctors And Nurses Are Revealing The Biggest "Health Misconceptions" That More People Should Know

A while back, a Reddit thread went viral where one user asked the internet, “Doctors and nurses of Reddit, what is the biggest health misconception people should know about?” Needless to say, their responses were incredibly informative and eye-opening. Here are some of the top-voted ones:

1.“When prescribed a course of antibiotics, it’s NOT okay to stop them when you feel better. At this point, you probably feel better because most of the bacteria have been killed, except for a few, which are naturally stronger. If you don’t finish your full course, these will then multiply, and you will have an even worse infection — which is much harder to get rid of.”


A person dispenses pills from an orange prescription bottle into their hand

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2.I’m not yet a nurse, but I just finished an MSc focusing on infections and sexual health and hope to start nursing studies soon: Douching — DON’T DO IT. A lot of people seem to think it’s OK to douche, and it’s really not; the pH of the vagina is extremely sensitive and differs from person to person, so feminine hygiene products and using stuff like vinegar or whatever are a waste of money and damaging to your regions. If anything, they are more likely to cause infections than prevent them.”


3.“Quite common, but crackling your knuckles does not give you arthritis.”


A person stands with hands clasped together, focusing on their fingers. Their attire consists of a plain shirt and jeans

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4.“It is okay if you do not poop every day as long as your schedule is at least two to three times a week and consistent.”


5.“It’s true that grapefruit (and its juice) can cause many major drug interactions. It’s a very potent metabolic inhibitor; even a small amount shuts down the CYP3A4 liver enzyme for up to 24 hours. A drug that uses that pathway will persist in the blood far longer than specified, and you may essentially ‘double dose’ after taking the next dose on schedule. There’s a list of medications it messes with.”


A halved grapefruit, showing the juicy sections and some seeds inside, sits on a plate with a fork next to it

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6.“Do NOT try to cook a fever out of someone. You could get their temperature too high for the brain to handle, and you could make them suffer a febrile seizure. If they’re hot to the touch, give them a Tylenol and put them in a tub of cool/room-temperature water. I haven’t seen this happen in a while, so maybe people are learning, but those old folk remedies don’t always work, and sometimes, they do more harm than good.”


7.“Using hydrogen peroxide on cuts isn’t an effective way to clean wounds. The best thing to do is just wash the cut with water and possibly put some topical antibacterial for a few days to prevent infection. Also, applying some Aquaphor or some ointment to keep the wound moist helps it to heal faster.”


A person placing a band-aid over a scraped knee, focusing on the hands and the injured knee

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8.“When we are taking your history, we are not judging you if you just drank a 40 oz, snorted a couple of lines of coke, popped a couple of Vicodin, and shot up a little heroin for good measure right before walking in the door to see us. You NEED TO TELL US. We really, truly, from the bottom of our hearts, do not care that you did it, but if we don’t know, we cannot properly assess you or your situation. You may get misdiagnosed, have unnecessary tests done, or be given a drug that could KILL you.”

“We need to know what is in your system AND/OR if you drink or do drugs on a regular basis. We will not judge you, but we cannot do our job if we don’t know. Of course, we care about you as a person; we wish you wouldn’t drink or do drugs. We might give you a little lecture about how it is negatively impacting your health, but that is because we DO care. Just don’t lie!”


9.“It is not okay to eat/drink the night/morning before surgery. They tell you not to, so you don’t aspirate your own vomit into your lungs while you’re under.”


Surgeons performing a surgical procedure in an operating room, with various medical instruments visible in the foreground

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10.“I’m a physical therapy student. A lot of people with certain musculoskeletal conditions (i.e., osteoarthritis) stop exercising or don’t exercise at all because they think it’ll exacerbate pain or make their pain worse. Research shows that it does the opposite and helps.”


11.“You cannot cure a cold. It is a virus. You can only treat its symptoms.”


A person is lying on a couch under a blanket, using a tissue. There is medication and a glass of water on the table nearby

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12.“If you feel you can still pack your bag before calling the ambulance, you most likely don’t need an ambulance. If you feel you can walk to the ambulance or have a smoke before going to the ambulance, you most likely don’t need an ambulance.”

“And the most important part: Getting to the hospital in an ambulance DOES NOT get you treated any faster. In fact, especially with a problem that is not ‘ambulance worthy’ (aka, you could have gotten there yourself), staff tend to educate you by letting you wait for ages.”


13.I’m not a doc, but my whole family is, and I’m pre-med; my parents always laugh when people say not to go out in the cold or they might catch a cold. Being cold =/= getting a ‘cold.’ The common cold is a viral infection that has nothing to do with being cold. However, if you are cold for a long time, it can depress your immune system and leave you more susceptible to viral infection — probably the origin of the saying — but people should know better in the 21st century.”


Person walking a large black and white dog on a snowy street. The person is wearing a hooded coat, and the street is lined with snow-covered trees

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14.“Mental Illness is a disease. Don’t be afraid to seek help when you need it. So many people suffer from depression/anxiety and go through years of suffering because they are too proud to seek help.”


And finally…

15.“Flu vaccines do not cause the flu. In some cases, people experience mild cold symptoms as a result of their immune response. It’s also possible to contract the flu up to a few weeks after vaccination. It’s also possible to contract strains of flu that you have not been vaccinated against any time after a flu shot, which is why people who don’t like getting the flu and vulnerable populations (young, old, or immunocompromised) should get vaccinated every year as strains change.”


A healthcare professional wearing gloves applies a band-aid to a person's arm after a vaccination

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Doctors and nurses, what are some other “health misconceptions” more people should know? Feel free to tell us in the comments below.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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