Thursday, April 24, 2008

Myths About Medical Myths

A recent article "The top medical myths" on a British newspaper's website left me perplexed. While some made sense, a few were questionable and one was just flat out wrong. Sure, maybe sex is not really exercise, and it's true that most hypertension does not cause headaches (although, if it does, that's a very bad sign). However, I thought this was just ridiculous:

YOU SHOULDN'T MIX ANTIBIOTICS AND ALCOHOL

How wrong is this? Totally, with the exception of the antibiotic metronidazole.

What are the facts? Any interaction of alcohol with virtually all antibiotics is nonexistent, or so small as to be irrelevant. Metronidazole, an antibiotic used for a variety of infections, is the exception to this rule. When mixed with even small amounts of booze, it causes vomiting.

Any related myths? That you should always finish your course of antibiotics. It usually makes little difference.

You may agree with the alcohol part, but not finishing antibiotics??? That's just a bad idea - not finishing courses of antibiotics is what leads to drug-resistant bacteria. It's one thing if some blog said this, but a newspaper (and its website) should be held to a higher standard. I always thought the arguments against socialized medicine were a little bogus, but after reading this, maybe there is some merit to them...

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