There is no shortage of bad information on the Internet. Don’t believe everything you read. Below is a short list of some of the biggest lies, scams or bogus information that populates the Internet.
Myth #1: Vaccinations are Unsafe
Nothing could be further from the truth. Much of the improvement in our life expectancy we owe to vaccinations. Before a vaccine is approved for use in the United States, rigorous tests of efficacy and safety are performed. Childhood vaccinations such as measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, and chickenpox have prevented millions of cases of disease.
Influenza and Pneumonia vaccinations are one of our best tools to prevent dangerous and often fatal lung infections. You can’t get influenza or pneumonia from these vaccinations.
The anti-vaccination movement is a giant scam that is being put forth as science. As a matter of fact, the science is crystal clear—vaccinations are safe, effective and DON’T cause autism. These anti-vaccination advocates can be blamed for the outbreak of measles that is racing across America.
Patients that are taking medicines that suppress their immune system such as prednisone or are receiving chemotherapy should avoid live attenuated vaccines such as measles (MMR) and the older shingles vaccine (Zostavax).
Myth #2: Antibiotics Will Help My Cold Symptoms
We have a growing problem across the world with increasingly resistant bacteria. This is caused by overuse of antibiotics. Too many patients are taking antibiotics for viral infections. Not only are antibiotics not helpful, they will predictably lead to more difficult bacterial infections down the road.
How do you know if you have a viral infection? Does everyone in your family have the same symptoms? Does everyone at work have the same symptoms? If the answer is yes then most likely you have a viral syndrome. Nasal congestion, sore throat, cough are classic symptoms.
Why does my doctor give me antibiotics when I have viral symptoms?
This over-prescribing is driven by several factors. Doctors don’t want to miss the opportunity to treat a bacterial infection. Doctors don’t want their patients to get upset. Doctors may not recognize a viral syndrome.
Most patients with cold symptoms just want to feel better. They want reassurance that their symptoms are not a serious bacterial infection. You can help your doctor make a good decision by expressing your goals up front in the visit. “I am worried that I have a bacterial infection, if you think it is just a viral infection then I am OK with not taking antibiotics”.
Myth #3: Stem Cells Will Help My Pulmonary Fibrosis
I have written repeatedly on this topic. But sick patients are desperate for help and want to believe that there are treatments that can deliver. Slick sales pitches promise amazing results. Testimonials from patients that have been cured from terrible diseases are always part of this sales pitch. DON’T believe the scammers. There is no approved role for stem cells in the treatment of Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). These scammers are preying on your desperation. Not only are these treatments not helpful, they can be dangerous. Infections can develop from the infusions. Save you hard earned money. If you want to help advance the quest for a cure, give money to the American Lung Association to help real science find a cure.
The FDA has issued warnings for patients to avoid these scams. Hopefully in the future better regulations will prevent shady businesses from scamming patients.
Myth #4: Over-the-Counter Supplements and Naturopathic Medicines Will Help IPF
We all wish that the extract of some root would hold the cure to IPF. Unfortunately, the promises made by this enzyme supplement or that naturopathic remedy are scams. Not only are these over the counter supplements largely untested, many have important interactions with medicines you are taking. Be sure to have a frank conversation with your doctors about what supplements you wish to take. The vitamin and supplement business is a multi-billion dollar market. Patients who complain about a $20 copay on their prescription from the pharmacy are often willing to pay hundreds of dollars on unproven supplements. Be a skeptic and use common sense. If it sounds too good to be true, then it is not true.