5 Myths About Curing Common Injuries (You Probably Believe)

In the middle of any kind of health emergency, large or small, you'll immediately be surrounded by friends shouting tips about how to handle it. When you get all of this conflicting advice ("He's choking! Kick him in the balls!"), you wonder if their medical knowledge is coming from actual science, old wives' tales they heard from their grandma, or something they saw in a comic book. Don't bother asking -- they don't know, either.

So, from time to time we like to go look up the actual medical advice from experts to find all of the ways conventional wisdom gets these things disastrously wrong.

#5. Don't Tilt Your Head Back to Stop a Nosebleed

Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

If you were the same stereotypical nerd that we were in high school, then you know the pain of occasional nosebleeds as intimately as wedgie rash. And whether these sudden gouts of blood are due to a dodgeball to the face or random chance, everyone instinctively does the same thing: squeeze the nostrils shut and tilt their head back.

Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images
You should probably wait until the fight ends to try that, though.

It makes sense, considering that the first order of business is to keep blood from running all over your one good T-shirt. Sure, bloodstains look badass when they're new, but when they dry, they just look like you dribbled brown gravy all over yourself.

But Actually ...

Not only does holding your head back not do anything to actually stop the nosebleed, but it grants the blood free access to flow down your throat, which is actually a worse place for it to be than on your Dragon Ball Z shirt. Sure, you might figure that blood is supposed to be inside you anyway, so it can't do any more harm down there, but actually, this technique can result in choking, or, if the blood travels further down, stomach irritation and vomiting. All things considered, you'll only wind up grossing everyone out even more.

Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images
"... and then I barfed up a gallon of my own blood. She said she'll call me."

What Can You Do Instead?

The consensus among doctors is that you should sit down, pinch your nose, and lean forward. Leaning forward will help you avoid swallowing your blood, pinching your nose will prevent the blood from escaping it, and sitting down will help you not be standing around like a jackass while waiting for the bleeding to stop. Most nosebleeds will stop by themselves within 10 minutes, so you can usually ride them out in this manner without making your house look like the finale of Django Unchained.

#4. If Poisoned, Don't Induce Vomiting (Unless a Doctor Says So)

BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

So your friend got distracted on beer night and accidentally drank a glass of paint thinner. It's the kind of comical situation that we who write for comedy sites find ourselves in every day. But unfortunately, unlike in Wile E. Coyote cartoons, a case of poisoning rarely results in your face turning green and then you jumping through a wall. Most of us probably know what to do about it, though -- after all, it's not rocket science. You have to get the poison out. Two fingers down the throat will bring that stuff right back up again. If it's good enough for James Bond, it's good enough for us.

Greg Williams/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
"If there's anything two fingers can't accomplish, I haven't found it yet."

But Actually ...

If some substance is doing damage to the inside of your friend's body, then, like chasing an angry raccoon out of your house via the back door, it's going to do more damage on its way out. Many poisons are acidic or alkaline in nature, so although it would have been better not to swallow poison in the first place, bringing it back up via the esophagus can just burn your throat out.

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
4 out of 5 doctors advise against burning vital organs. The fifth is standing behind you right now.

Remember that your stomach is full of acid anyway -- it might be able to deal with an acidic substance. Sitting in a pool of acid is literally its job. But anyone who has had to contend with heartburn knows that the throat doesn't deal with it so well. Your lungs, if you should happen to gag while blowing volatile acidic chunks, even less so.

What Can You Do Instead?

Your problem is that there is no universal first-aid response for "poisoning" because there are a million different substances out there that all wreak havoc on your insides in different ways. You have to call for help -- and while you wait, you can make sure your friend doesn't have any poison left in his mouth. If he stops breathing, do CPR. But that's it, until you get instructions from somebody smarter than you.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Not Steven Hawking. He isn't even a dentist.

Now, if you're lucky, you know what your friend drank and it came in a bottle with instructions on the back that tell you what to do if you manage to put it inside your dumb ass. But in any case, don't mess around with whatever folksy remedy your grandmother told you about, involving vomit or anything else. Call poison control, because the only antidote that can help you comes with the letters "M.D." on its business card.

#3. A Cold Shower Does Nothing to Speed Sobriety

Andrea Chu/Digital Vision/Getty Images

We were all young once, and some of us still are, so most of us know the joys of waking up drunk after a night of partying. It's usually a week after we swore to never do that again. So what happens if you have things to do and people to meet, but you still need to hold onto the walls to stop the room from spinning? Conventional wisdom says that you jump into a cold shower to scare your body sober.

Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images
This can also be an effective solution for morning wood.

But Actually ...

It turns out your shower water does not possess any magical healing properties. It does, however, have the ability to give you hypothermia when you're drunk.

As we've mentioned in the past, despite what cute cartoons about droopy-eyed brandy-carrying Saint Bernards may lead you to believe, alcohol does not warm you up. In fact, alcohol lowers your overall body temperature, so you're making things a lot worse when you add cold water to the equation.

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
Thermodynamics, you insipid bitch!

"Well, better cold than drunk," you say defiantly, because you like to argue with computer screens while reading articles on the Internet. That's the thing, though: Cold water doesn't do shit to cancel the effects of alcohol. Worse than that, in extreme cases, the shock of cold water may even knock a drunk person unconscious. So unless your weekend plans include lying naked in a pool of icy water, we strongly advise you to stay away from cold showers.

What Can You Do Instead?

Although there are a million different folk cures for drunkenness, from coffee to Berocca to a round of slaps to the face, the truth is that the only true way to sober up is to wait it out while your punished, weeping liver churns through the alcohol. You could of course try drinking in moderation in the first place, but how in the hell will you tolerate being around your drunk friends then?

Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images
"Board meeting, shmoard meeting -- do another shot, candy-ass!"

Recommended For Your Pleasure

To turn on reply notifications, click here


The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!