There’s a whole lot of information out there—and if you’re a parent concerned about your child’s health, you want as much of that information as you can get. The only problem is, much of what we find in cyberspace is contradictory or just plain wrong. It can be difficult to know where to find reliable, trustworthy information in such a vast sea of medical opinions.
There are, however, a few popular myths that every trained medical professional (or at least the vast majority of them) will agree on:
Myth #1: The flu vaccine is harmful, ineffective and/or unnecessary
All of the leading medical organizations, including the World Health Organization, recognize flu vaccination as the single most important way to limit and contain the spread of influenza each year. Would this really be the case if vaccinations were actually harmful or ineffective? Probably not. Influenza vaccine has been around in the United States since the 1930s, and both children and adults are statistically less likely to come down with influenza if they have been vaccinated that year (the vaccine changes constantly, as they virus itself changes every year).
Parents should investigate the evidence thoroughly and decide for themselves—although it’s worth reiterating that children (particularly infants) are more prone to influenza than healthy adults.
Myth #2: Antibiotics are the answer to every infection
Naturally, most parents are very protective of their children. This means that when a child has signs of infection anywhere in the body, whether bacterial or viral, parents want to address the problem immediately and effectively. The answer, in many people’s minds, is an immediate dose of powerful antibiotics. However, is this the best possible answer in all cases? Not at all. In fact, recent medical evidence has shown that antibiotics are not always necessary. Also, prescribing them too often can actually weaken their efficacy over time. Your doctor or nurse should have a strong case for prescribing these powerful medications. Mild infections usually clear up with rest and mild treatment.
Myth #3: Inhalers are only for acute asthma attacks.
Every parent of a child with asthma knows how wonderful and effective a prescription inhaler can be. Those asthma attacks can be scary for the entire family and the inhaler can immediately calm those inflamed airways and allow air to pass through more freely. However—it’s important to follow the doctor’s instructions. Often times, regular doses of the medicine (apart from usage during an asthma attack) are called for to prevent attacks from developing in the first place.
Myth #4: Soda is OK (as long as it’s “diet” soda)
Whatever variables you add or take away from soda, it’s never going to be the healthiest thing for your child to drink. Artificial sweeteners come with its own list of potential problems, and the very fact of drinking sugary, bubbly drinks may upset a child’s physiology and food habits. Of course, it’s up to every parent to decide what constitutes “moderation”—but doctors and dentists alike will suggest a stronger focus on water, unsweetened juices, and other healthy natural drinks—especially lots of good water!
How can I find reliable information?
If you feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of information out there and are confused about potential medical issues and/or treatments involving your child, the best thing to do is consult your pediatrician or local urgent care center. Ask for their professional opinions on these things. Communicating openly will definitely result in better overall care for your child—and greater peace of mind for you!