86%

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that 86% of our healthcare costs are spent on individuals with one or more chronic conditions. In addition, chronic conditions are responsible for 7 out of 10 deaths. Think about these statistics.

Chronic conditions can be ongoing or reoccurring, and they can last for years. Some cause only minor annoyances while others can greatly affect the quality of our lives. Often, people deal with more than one condition at a time. Complicating matters, no cures exist for these disorders.

The usual course of action—you go to your doctor or healthcare professional, they say you have such and such, they hand you a prescription, you fill it, and begin taking pills. Have more than one disorder? Then, you’ll probably be taking multiple medications. Because of this, the question must arise—what about the possibility of drug interactions?

In fact, your “condition” could actually be the result of a reaction to a drug you’re taking or perhaps, the interaction of one medication with another. Please take time to read what the side effects are for each medication you’re taking as well as how it interacts with the other drugs you may have been prescribed. You may be surprised by what you discover.

We are a nation that automatically seeks drugs to treat our symptoms; you could say we have been conditioned to seek this approach. Have a symptom, ask your doctor about a drug you’ve seen advertised or one a friend mentioned to you. I can understand this reaction to immediately seek a pill; if you’re suffering, you want relief.

But is this the appropriate response? Does the symptom reflect the underlying cause? In many cases it does not. How can a doctor really know what to prescribe without knowing the true cause and given this, will the treatment be successful?

For example, you’re having stomach/digestive issues and yet, your doctor says everything appears fine. What do you do? Do you reach for antacids for relief? Have you thought about first eliminating dairy and wheat from your diet for a month before taking that pill? Try this elimination approach and see if your discomfort lessens or disappears. Isn’t it worth a 31-day trial to possibly avoid having to take a prescription or over-the-counter medications for the rest of your life?

During this period of healthcare upheaval, our nation needs to shift to one that practices preventive medicine. Take control—make the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes that can eliminate or greatly reduce your chances of having to deal with a chronic condition. Do you truly want to face an endless cycle of doctor visits as well as taking multiple medications? Remember, the pharmaceutical companies want us to have this dependence—they can’t make money if we’re healthy.

If you’re thinking, my parents or grandparents have/had this condition; it’s in my genes. Please, think again. The McArthur Study reveals:

  • Only 30% of aging/longevity can be assigned to genetics; in fact as we get older our genetics become less important, and guess what, lifestyle and environment become more essential.
  • The significance of an active engagement with life.
  • The importance of diet, exercise, and in certain cases, medication in delaying or eliminating the emergence of disease.

Keeping these above points in mind, examine the various aspects of your lifestyle and environment. Look for foods, habits, actions, products, and behaviors that are detrimental to your health and wellbeing. If during your examination you find something that’s damaging, change it for the better and reap the rewards of that change.

4 Questions

In The New York Times’ November 22, 2015 Sunday Review, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, an oncologist and vice provost at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote an opinion piece, “Are Good Doctors Bad for Your Health?” In it, he discusses a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine analysis of 10 years of data: “It found that patients with acute, life-threatening cardiac conditions did better when the senior cardiologists were out of town.”   Dr. Emanuel points out there are no explanations for this fact.

Toward the end of his piece, Dr. Emanuel offers good advice; he says there are four questions patients should ask whenever their doctors are proposing an intervention (“whether an X-ray, genetic test, or surgery”). The four questions are:

  1. “What difference will it make? Will the test results change our approach to treatment?”
  2. “How much improvement in terms of prolongation of life, reduction in risk of a heart attack or other problem is the treatment actually going to make?”
  3. “How likely and severe are the side effects?”
  4. “Is the hospital a teaching hospital?” The reason for this, “The JAMA Internal Medicine study found that mortality was higher overall at nonteaching hospitals.”

Given the time constraints placed on medical professionals today, we need to be our own health advocates. It’s our health—the clock be damned. Don’t be shy about asking questions, and if necessary, ask for clarification and ask again. Get all the available information before making a decision, and if necessary, ask for a second opinion.

Name The Substance

This substance can:

  • Increase appetite.
  • Increase insulin production.
  • Lead to insulin resistance.
  • Contribute to bone loss.
  • Suppress the immune system—opening the door for infection and disease.
  • Trigger surge in stress hormones (cortisol & adrenaline).
  • Contribute to fat accumulation around your waist.
  • Use up the body’s store of vitamins and minerals.
  • Be referred to as a Class A drug—is more addictive than cocaine.
  • Increase blood sugar.
  • Contribute to diabetes.
  • Increase blood pressure.
  • Produce cravings.
  • Produce an over-acid condition in your body.
  • Contribute to depression.
  • Contribute to yeast infections.

This substance lacks nutritional value, and yet, the estimates are Americans individually consume between 150-170 pounds of this substance per year.

The substance:

Sugar

Something for us all to think about.

Magic Bullets

Because of my current career and my previous work in marketing research, I take notice of the continual proliferation, via the media, of drug advertisements. Will a company ever develop a pill to counteract the hype associated with some of these medications while simultaneously alerting us to the reality that we, as a society, are overmedicated?

The attraction of many prescription drugs is their promise of providing a magic bullet—the pill that will cure everything. Doesn’t this remind you of the snake oil peddlers of the past hawking their magic elixirs? It’s not much of leap from these peddlers of old to the slick television and print ads of today beckoning us to get a prescription from our doctor for illnesses/conditions we never knew existed.  I’m sorry if I’m the one to break the news, but just as a magic elixir didn’t exist, neither does a magic bullet.

For me, just hearing the various potential side effects of current prescription drugs, such as suicidal thoughts, hostility, depression, abnormal dreams (what are they exactly?), and even death, would make me think twice the next time my doctor wanted to write me a new script or two.

In an earlier post, I mentioned a marketing research project I worked on for a pharmaceutical company. They wanted participants who were at risk for type II diabetes and who were controlling their symptoms with diet and exercise. Guess what? We couldn’t find anyone. Everyone was already on medication.

How did we become a society focused on illness rather than health? Why do we give control of our health to little blue, white, green, or whatever color pills? Please realize, I recognize there are times when a prescription medication is necessary and appropriate, but there are times when we need to take control of our health and wellness. Related to this, please see my post of May 21, Are Your Prescriptions Killing You?

From my perspective, talk to your doctor about the feasibility of making healthy lifestyle changes first (as my client wanted with the type II diabetes study) before popping a pill(s) and falling prey to their potential scary side effects.

At this moment, let’s start a new movement—thinking in terms of health instead of disease. Will you join me?