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Summer Myths Exposed: Old Wives' Tales Debunked

For many centuries, the evil powers of heat and cold, wind and rain, sun and moon have taken center stage in the mythology of illness. Let’s find out if they are true or not!​

Summer Myths Exposed: Old Wives' Tales Debunked

Is it really true that one can develop pharyngitis from drinking cold water, or eating ice cream?

No. Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the throat, caused by viruses and bacteria, and not cold temperatures. If you share ice cream or a frosty beverage with someone with a virus or bacteria in their saliva, you could catch a cold. But the culprit would be the person with a cold, not the ice cream. If this summer treat is not properly refrigerated, however, it can harbor Salmonella, which leads to vomiting and diarrhea. Be especially aware of street vendors.

Can drafts cause strokes, upper respiratory illnesses or conjunctivitis?

Wind and drafts do not lead to illness, unless you consider chapped cheeks in the winter to be a disease.


Does air conditioning put you at risk for catching a cold? Is it bad for your health to enter a cool room after having been outside on a sweltering summer day?

There is easily a 20 degree difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures during the winter months. If it is cold outside, you don’t hesitate to “shock” your system with heating indoors, then why would air conditioning in the summer be “unnatural” or unhealthy? The only instance in which air conditioning can actually cause illness is the case of Legionnaires disease. Legionnaires is a very rare (1-2 occurrences per 100,000 European inhabitants) cause of severe pneumonia produced by inhaling mists contaminated by legionella pneumophila. Most outbreaks have happened in large buildings when air conditioning cooling towers, humidifiers, and whirlpool spas have not been adequately cleaned.


So we advise you to enjoy the pleasures of summer as much as possible, which sometimes includes drinking a big glass of ice water in the air-conditioned apartment.

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