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Popular health myths debunked

Well-meaning parents or grandparents often tell children not to do something with the warning that a serious health implication could result. Kids often take their elders at their word. But some of these warnings bear more truth than others. Here's the scoop on some of the more common misconceptions.


Swallowed chewing gum stays in the stomach for seven years.

While chewing gum cannot be digested and is meant to be chewed and not swallowed, accidentally swallowing a piece here and there won't cause major issues. That's because the gum will simply pass through the digestive system whole and come out with stool. If a large amount of gum is swallowed in a short period of time, then there could be issues, including constipation and intestinal blockage in children.


If you keep your eyes crossed too long, they will get stuck that way.

The muscles in the eye are just like any muscles elsewhere in the body. Although they may tire and get sore, they are relatively resilient and can take a lot of wear and tear. Crossing your eyes may tax these muscles, but you won't do any permanent harm. Rest assured that crossing the eyes will not leave them stuck that way.


Going outside with wet hair will make you sick.

Although you will feel colder stepping outside with a part of your body wet, it won't make you more susceptible to catching a cold. Researchers at the Common Cold Research Unit in England once tested a group of volunteers who were given the cold virus. One half of the group stayed in a warm room, while the others took a bath and stood wet in a hallway for a half hour. The wet group didn't catch more colds than the dry.


Covering your head is most important because you lose 75 percent of your body heat through it.

This calculation is more for an infant whose head makes up a greater percentage of his or her body. In an adult, the figure is closer to 10 percent. Heat can escape from any exposed area of the body. Therefore, it is helpful to bundle up all areas of the body when spending time outdoors in the cold weather.


Don't swim right after eating.

The basis of this mantra is that when digesting food, the digestive system pulls blood away from the muscles and the idea is that you could cramp up and drown. While you may have less energy to swim vigorously, chances are you won't be so weak as to drown.

Although many health myths prevail, knowing the truth can help parents educate their children better about which behaviors are safe and which are risky.