Common myths patients have about their health


As patients, we all want to make informed decisions about our health and medical treatments. However, sometimes we can be misinformed or misled by common myths and misconceptions that have been circulating for years. These myths can cause unnecessary worry, delay treatment, or even lead to harmful consequences. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common myths that patients have about their health and medical treatments, and separate fact from fiction to help you make informed decisions and take charge of your health.

  1. Antibiotics can cure all infections: Antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections but are ineffective against viral infections such as the common cold or flu. Taking antibiotics for viral infections can lead to antibiotic resistance.
  2. You should always take antibiotics until the bottle is empty: The appropriate length of antibiotic treatment depends on the specific infection being treated. It’s important to follow the instructions of your healthcare provider and complete the full course of antibiotics, but taking antibiotics unnecessarily or for too long can contribute to antibiotic resistance.
  3. You only need to see a doctor when you’re sick: Regular check-ups and preventative care are important for maintaining overall health and catching potential health issues before they become serious.
  4. If you feel fine, you don’t need to go to the doctor: Regular check-ups are important even if you feel healthy. Some health conditions, such as high blood pressure and certain cancers, may not have obvious symptoms in their early stages, making regular screenings and preventative care crucial.
  5. If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not a problem: Many health issues, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, don’t have obvious symptoms but can still cause serious health problems if left untreated.
  6. You don’t need to worry about your health until you’re older: Building healthy habits early in life can help prevent chronic health conditions later on. It’s important to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid risky behaviors such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
  7. You don’t need to take medication if you feel better: It’s important to follow the instructions of your healthcare provider regarding medication dosage and duration, even if you feel better. Stopping medication prematurely can lead to a relapse or worsening of symptoms.
  8. Natural remedies are always safe: While natural remedies can be helpful in some cases, they can also have side effects and interact with other medications. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any natural remedies.
  9. Alternative medicine is always safe and effective: While some alternative therapies can be helpful in treating certain conditions, many have not been scientifically proven to be effective. Discuss any alternative treatments with your healthcare provider and to use them in conjunction with conventional medical treatments.
  10. Vaccines are dangerous: Vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective in preventing infectious diseases. The risks associated with not getting vaccinated are much greater than the risks associated with getting vaccinated.
  11. Vaccines are not safe and can cause autism: This myth has been thoroughly debunked by scientific research. Vaccines are safe and effective in preventing serious infectious diseases and do not cause autism.
  12. Pain is always a normal part of aging: While some pain and discomfort may be common as we age, it’s important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing persistent or severe pain. Pain can be a sign of an underlying health condition that requires treatment.
  13. Pain medication addiction is inevitable: While pain medication can be addictive, not everyone who takes pain medication becomes addicted. With proper medical supervision and adherence to dosage instructions, the risk of addiction can be minimized.
  14. Mental illness is a sign of weakness: Mental illness is a medical condition that affects millions of people. It’s important to seek help when experiencing mental health issues and to understand that it has nothing to do with personal weakness or character flaws.
  15. Only older adults get arthritis: While it’s true that arthritis is more common in older adults, it can affect people of all ages, including children.
  16. More expensive medical treatments are always better: More expensive medical treatments are not always more effective than less expensive treatments. It’s important to discuss treatment options with a healthcare professional and make informed decisions based on the risks and benefits of each option.
  17. All health problems can be cured: While medical treatments can often improve or even cure certain health conditions, not all conditions can be cured. Some chronic conditions require ongoing management and lifestyle modifications to control symptoms and prevent complications.
  18. Eating sugar causes diabetes: While a diet high in sugar can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, it’s not the sole cause of the disease. Other factors such as genetics, weight, and lifestyle also play a role in the development of diabetes.
  19. You should avoid all fats in your diet: While some types of fats, such as trans fats, should be avoided, others such as unsaturated fats can be beneficial to heart health when consumed in moderation.
  20. You can’t get pregnant while on your period: While it’s less likely to conceive during your period, it is still possible. Sperm can survive in the reproductive tract for several days, so it’s important to use contraception consistently to prevent unintended pregnancy.
  21. You can’t exercise when you’re pregnant: Moderate exercise is safe and beneficial during pregnancy for most women. It’s important to discuss an exercise plan with your healthcare provider to ensure that it’s safe for you and your baby.
  22. You can’t exercise if you have heart disease: Exercise can be beneficial in managing heart disease and improving cardiovascular health. It’s important to discuss an exercise plan with your healthcare provider to ensure that it’s safe for you.
  23. If you have a strong immune system, you won’t get sick: While a strong immune system can help prevent some illnesses, it’s not a guarantee against all infections. Proper hygiene, vaccination, and avoiding exposure to pathogens are also important in preventing illness.
  24. Cancer is always a death sentence: While cancer can be a serious and life-threatening condition, advances in medical treatments have led to improved survival rates and quality of life for many cancer patients. Early detection and treatment can also increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.
  25. The flu is just a bad cold: The flu is a serious respiratory illness that can lead to hospitalization and even death, particularly in high-risk populations such as young children, older adults, and those with underlying health conditions.
  26. You don’t need to wear sunscreen on cloudy days: UV rays from the sun can still penetrate through clouds and cause skin damage, so it’s important to wear sunscreen or protective clothing even on cloudy days.

In conclusion, patients often believe certain myths about their health that can lead to misunderstandings and potentially harmful decisions. Some of the most common myths include the belief that natural remedies are always safe and effective, that antibiotics can cure all types of infections, and that vaccines are dangerous. It is important for healthcare professionals to address these myths with their patients and provide accurate information to ensure that they make informed decisions about their health. By dispelling these myths and promoting evidence-based practices, healthcare providers can help patients make informed decisions and improve their overall health outcomes.

How can I contact gastroenterologist Dr. Zavos for an appointment?

Dr. Chris Zavos is a board-certified gastroenterologist and hepatologist, located in Thessaloniki Greece, and specifically in Kalamaria suburb, about 7 kilometres (4 miles) southeast of downtown Thessaloniki. His private office is at: Fanariou 8 street (near Aigaiou and Adrianoupoleos avenues), Kalamaria (Thessaloniki), Greece.

Thessaloniki International Airport is only 10 km away from his private office in Kalamaria and can be reached by taxi within 13 minutes from the airport.

Dr. Chris Zavos performs endoscopies at Bioclinic private hospital in downtown Thessaloniki (Mitropoleos 86 street).

You can contact Dr. Zavos at phone numbers: (+30)-6976596988 and (+30)-2311283833, or you can email him at Dr. Zavos responds to Greek and English languages.

Last update: 26 September 2023, 19:10


Gastroenterologist - Hepatologist, Thessaloniki

PhD at Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

PGDip at Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht, The Netherlands

Ex President, Hellenic H. pylori & Microbiota Study Group