May 16, 2018

The truth behind 4 popular healthcare myths

Estimated reading time: 2-4 minutes

Lost on your quest to lead a healthy life? You’re not alone. Healthcare myths run rampant online, and it’s easy to think that all professional-sounding articles, blog posts, and threads you come across online are somehow factual. But that’s not always the case.

With every new innovation, the fields of science and medicine continue to shift and expand, exposing new misconceptions and redefining what we know about our world and ourselves.


In our work at Philips, we seek to improve people’s lives, and that always begins with the truth. We asked some of our most talented experts to weigh in on four of healthcare’s widely accepted myths. And here’s what we learned:


Myth #1: Night-time snoring always indicates a sleep disorder.

If your sleeping partner has ever startled you wide awake in the middle of the night, then you know the true challenges of night-time snoring. It’s easy to assume that snoring as you catch your daily Zs is pathological, especially if you’re a bit tired the next day or it rouses your bedmate. But that’s not always true.


“Simply because you snored does not mean that you necessarily had a bad night’s sleep or have Sleep Apnea,” says Dr. David White, Medical Director in our Sleep and Respiratory care division.


However, if you’re excessively tired during the day and wake up at night gasping for air, you may indeed have Sleep Apnea. It’s a serious, complex sleep disorder that occurs a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep.

Simply because you snored does not mean that you necessarily had a bad night sleep

 “In most cases, usually it’s the bed partner that recognizes that there may be an issue with Sleep Apnea,” adds Tracy Mahood, Philips Marketer.


Dr. White agrees. “It can be so disruptive to the bed partner that treating that may be just as important as treating the patient themselves.”


If you’re unsure about whether or not your snoring and related symptoms are problematic, it’s best to bring up your concerns with your doctor.  


Five Sleep Tips from Two Philips Sleep Experts

Seeking sound slumber? Philips sleep scientists Tim van Leufkens and Tim Weysen recommend these five simple tips to a better bedtime:


  1. If you’re sleeping well, don’t shake up your night-time routine. It’s working for you.
  2. If you suspect that you have a sleep disorder like Sleep Apnea, ask your doctor. Things to look for: feeling excessively sleepy during the day, waking up at night gasping for air, and disturbing your partner with your snoring.
  3. Do things during the day that improve your sleep, like getting a lot of daylight, exercising, and decreasing your caffeine intake.
  4. Keep a regular sleep/wake pattern, even during the weekend.
  5. Give yourself two hours of laptop-, cell phone-, and social media-free wind-down time before bed.

Sweet dreams!


Myth #2: Pacifiers are bad for babies.


Call them what you will: soothers, comforters, bo-bos, or pacis, these tiny tools play an important role in the lives of many new parents and babies.

They’re also a welcome way to comfort babies.


“We always have that debate going on – pacifier or no pacifier,” says Dr. Leslie Altimer, Philips Clinical Expert.


“In uterus on ultrasounds, babies are constantly sucking on their thumb at a very early stage. It’s very calming to have their hands to their face. I think it’s really important to be able to provide that pacifier.”


Binkie Bonus Fact.

Those convenient little holes placed around the edge of pacifiers are not just for affixing pacifier clips. They actually help protect babies’ faces. “There may be holes along what we would call the ‘shield’ enabling more air to flow through to baby’s skin,” says Lindsay Clayton, Philips Marketer. “These holes can reduce things like skin marks, irritation, and drool rash.”

Myth #3: It’s easy to recover from “flatlining” on a heart monitor.

It’s the moment that secretly enthralls you as a devoted film fanatic. The leading lady is sick, but there’s still hope, because in the background, you hear the life-affirming beep, beep of the heart monitor. And then, in a quick twist of fate, the staccato turns to a single, lengthy, monotone.


Nurses and doctors rush into the room clutching paddles to attempt a vigorous resuscitation, and the curtain is drawn.


It’s faint at first – a whisper of sound, and then it’s louder – the familiar rhythmic beep beep returns. The leading lady is safe again for now, and you join your fellow moviegoers in an audible sigh of relief.


But maybe don’t celebrate quite yet.


‘Flatlining’ refers to the state of the heart when it shows no electrical activity, and it’s not always possible to recover once you’ve had this type of cardiac event.


“When a heart flatlines, what happens is that beep that you hear actually goes away,” notes Dr.  Ivan Salgo, Associate Chief Medical Officer.


“We typically call that ‘asystole,’ but it could be some other type of malignant rhythm, and that means that we have to intervene immediately because there’s a life-threatening event.”

‘Flatlining’ refers to the state of the heart when it shows no electrical activity, and it’s not always possible to recover

Interventions include a prescribed set of CPR, defibrillation, and drug therapies, and depending on the patient’s particular situation, are not always effective.


“From an engineering perspective, ‘flatlining’ is seeing nothing,” remarks Harold Hovagimian, Philips Engineer.


“There’s no electrical activity between any of the nodes. It’s just that constant tone. That’s something that is almost always bad.”


Myth #4: The design of modern baby bottles leaves no room for innovation.  

While feeding bottles have their roots in ancient Egypt, the standard baby bottle with its recognizable straight shape and rubber teat was developed in the 1920s. Since then, it has undergone crucial changes to become safer and more comfortable to use.


As cultural standards around breastfeeding continue to shift and develop, parents now have more flexibility in the ways in which they’re able to feed their babies.

“There are more options for new moms,” says Lindsay Clayton.


“Women who would like to combine breast and bottle feeding can choose natural options which have wide, breast-shaped nipples and mimic breastfeeding.”


Dr. Altimer agrees. “I think that’s so important to have that combination with our push to improve the breastfeeding rate. We really need to find a way to combine that mixture of bottles and breastfeeding.”


You’ll be surprised what you learn in a career at Philips. In our work, we’re not only exposing the truth of healthcare’s most well-known myths, we’re creating meaningful innovations in the process. The global healthcare challenges we’re looking to answer inspire us, and the solutions we seek are often bolstered by our own personal and professional experiences. By challenging our perception, we have the chance to transform the lives of people across the globe.

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