Summer Myth Busters: Find Out the Facts


Summer just doesn't usher in longer days, sun rays and warm nights. It also reprises a host of myths associated with the season. People question how long they should wait to swim after eating and whether urinating on a jellyfish sting will work.

Before you prepare to let a friend relieve you from that jellyfish sting, take a look and find out what is fact and what is fiction.

You always hear: It's dangerous to swim on a full stomach, you could easily cramp up.

The truth is: Dive in whenever you're comfortable. There's no evidence that waiting helps ward off a cramp that could lead to drowning, says William D. Chey, a gastroenterologist at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. It takes about an hour for food to fully digest, but there's no magic number. Food is moving through your digestive tract for hours and hours.

Instead: If you have a cramp, swim sideways back to land. If you're really incapacitated, float on your back. Cramps don't have to do with the time of your eating, but more likely dehydration, especially in summer.

You always hear: You need to urinate on a jellyfish sting to soothe the intense pain quickly.

The truth: In fact, it can release more toxins and prolong the pain. Ice helps the pain. Urine is a bad idea.

Instead: Rinse the area with saltwater to remove the stinging cells and keep the ache from worsening. The burn should begin to subside after five minutes, but discomfort can linger. An over-the-counter painkiller or cortisone cream will help in the meantime.

You always hear: After a snakebite, you should suck out the venom to keep it from spreading.

The truth: That can damage the wound around the bite area. Get to a hospital because you need the anti-venom, and try to get a look at what kind of snake bit you. Any snake that has yellow in its skin is dangerous. People don't realize that there are snakes all around the country, not just in the desert.

Instead: Remove any constricting jewelry, wrap a loose dressing around the area and maintain it above heart level, if you can. Head to the hospital. Trying to suck out venom won't help and can damage soft tissue around the bite, says Edward J. Wozniak, an ophiologist at the Texas A&M University Institute for Biosciences and Technology in Houston.

You always hear: Taking antacid medication can help ease a major case of the queasies.

The truth: Actually it will prolong it. Staying hydrated is all you can do. Acid is what fights the bacteria. Antacid is only for heartburn or acid reflux and it's burning the bottom of your esophagus. If you're traveling and have tourist stomach, take something. Imodium is only the delayer of the inevitable.

Instead: Think about what you've eaten in the last few hours. If you have food poisoning symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, swallowing an acid blocker can prolong the illness because you have less stomach acid to kill the bacteria, Chey says. Your best bet: hydrate. You should feel fine in a couple of days and get ready for more good times.