We have spent the last few columns discussing some health care myths.

Here are a few more to consider.

Myth 1: “I know you’re in pain, but you will just have to tolerate some of it” is a statement you never want to hear from your health care providers.

In the old days, when you needed to undergo a painful procedure, all you could get for the pain was some whiskey and a stick to bite on. Of course, general and local anesthesia techniques have made that situation obsolete.

But, even when you are suffering from pain from a surgical or nonsurgical source, there are now many ways to deal with the pain so suffering can be kept to a minimum.

Pain can be a difficult thing to measure. If I ask you how bad your pain is, you can tell me things like “terrible” or “very bad” or “tolerable,” but those words mean different things to different people. So, the health care community has tried to actually measure pain by developing a pain scale. The scale goes from one to 10. Ten is the worst pain you have ever felt. One is just some discomfort.

So, when your health care provider asks you about your pain, you can give him a number. Now, this isn’t perfect. It is difficult to compare one person’s worst pain to another person’s worst pain. But, it is good for measuring a person’s pain level over time.

If your pain is a seven now and tomorrow it is a four, that change is important information to help control the pain and, in many instances, measure the success or failure of your treatment.

If you are in a hospital and the nurses keep asking about your pain level, don’t get upset. It is the change in the pain level that needs to be measured.

Then your health care provider can determine the best way to manage your pain to give you the best relief without overdosing you with pain medication.

Myth 2: “The best way to treat a burn is to put butter on it.”

That is really bad advice. Think about what happens when you heat up some fat on the stove then put a raw hamburger into the pan. You end up with a tasty dinner.

You should only put butter on a burn of human flesh if you intend to eat the resulting “human-burger” — a practice that is not socially acceptable under most circumstances.

Rather, immediately remove any clothing or jewelry in the area of the burn; place the burned portion of your body under some running, cool water. Not too cold and not too hot.

If no running water is available, some cool towels or cloths will help. No ice, please.

If the area is dirty, you can wash it gently with only warm, soapy water. If blisters start to form where your skin was burned, do not try to break or pop them.

There are a lot of burn medications, both antibiotic and pain medications, you can place on the burned skin. But, you need to be careful when using them.

They are OK for sunburn where the skin is just a little red, but otherwise you need to visit your health care provider to get some specific treatment based on the severity of the burned area.

So much for two more myths. If you wonder about some myths, let me know. I will try to “bust” them for you.

Dr. Michael M. Warren is Ashbel Smith professor of surgery at University of Texas Medical Branch Division of Urology. Write him at michael.warren@galvnews.com.

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