Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Quick Fix??

This is a little rant based on my hesitation to use medications to provide relief for certain symptoms.  I am talking about antibiotics for infections, cold medicines for the cold, sleeping pills for insomnia, the list can go on.  My hesitation was increased when Caleb got an allergic reaction to an antibiotic (amoxicillin) for an ear infection last year.  My question is that even if Caleb did not get a reaction would it have been better for his bodies natural defense mechanisms to fight off the infection and does the antibiotics actually suppress the bodies natural defenses and cause the body to be more susceptible to infections in the future?  I am not sure.

This little rant has turned into a bigger question about our desire for a quick fix.  This question can be directed our medical industry, economy, and even our police state.  I will turn to the medical industry on the topic of drugs, but might write some other topics later on.

Furthering my discussion about antibiotics leads to the question about why medications are so popular.  If a person goes to a doctor with some type of symptom or chronic problem, does it seem like medications seem to be the fix to the problem?  I am only asking?  Does the visit (other than the wait) seem to be rushed without a thorough analysis of the fundamental problem?  For example, a person might have insomnia so a doctor might prescribe a sleeping pill without questioning whether the person drinks too much caffeine, does not exercise, etc.  I see all these drug commercials with the promise to improve your life (provide that you don't suffer from the large number of side effects) but can these really deliver and are doctors just prescribing these just because a patient asks. 

Do you see my point about a quick fix?  So why is the quick fix for health so popular?  Here are my thoughts (WARNING: CONSPIRACY THEORY)
  • A doctor is just trying to get the patient out the door and prescribing a drug is an easy answer.  Why?  Asking lifestyle questions takes too long (see footnote 1) and perhaps a patients is unwilling to change their unhealthy habits and will not budge until drugs are prescribed.
  • A patient just wants to relieve their problem without any lifestyle change.  Exercising an eating right is not easy.
  •  Money, Money, Money.  Drug companies make a ton of money selling drugs.  They market to the doctors (drug reps), patients (commercials), as well as the government (lobbyists) and they do a good job at it.
  • Sometimes the adverse effects of a drug are minimized (again see point 3- Money).   These drug companies control advertisements (notice nice music over a peaceful backdrop while giving side affects) and sometimes has some keys ties to government officials (CDC) who will recommend certain drugs or require certain vaccines.
One issue with antibiotics, vaccines, and prescribed drugs is the possible side effects, suppression of the bodies natural defense mechanism, allergic reactions, reactions to other drug,  and the long term effects of these drugs.  No one knows the full effects of these drugs, because either it cannot fully be determined, or the drug has not been in the market long enough to see the effects.  But is it less of a risk to take the drug, vaccine, or antibiotic rather than use natural methods??

Again, I am not an expert in this field but I believe this is a valid question. I admit that I am a little old fashioned and generally believe that toughing it out though a sickness is a better alternative, so I would love to hear your viewpoints on whether drugs are quick fix alternatives or a better alternative.

1. Our pediatrician for Caleb, although well recommended, tends to be a little busy.  Rachael has visited many more times than myself, but in the three times that I have visited, our pediatrician has started the conversation with "Boy that last parent would not stop talking", insinuating that we should make this visit quick.  That was just a sidenote.   For our 2nd or 3rd visit (I can't remember) when we started seeing symptoms of eczema for Caleb, we asked the doctor about the symptoms and she just seemed to minimize the issue without looking at his skin or even asking about our history.  It was not until the end of the very quick visit when Rachael, as an aside, commented about how my side of the family has had many cases of eczema.  The doctors face lit up and she finally realized that we were serious.  She almost had us out of the door, but realized that this was actually a case of eczema.


Rachael said...

I believe Matt has portrayed our doctor in a negative light. I believe she is a great doctor, and would encourage you to read this post which gives just one substantial reason why I think so (See 5th paragraph):

phat said...

Rachael is correct that we have a great and well recommended doctor, but I had the feeling that she was just way too busy for us. Just saying.

Cynthia said...

I do tend to agree with you about using drugs as quick fixes for some things. Over the counter medications are typically used to treat symptoms of a virus where you are made to just feel comfortable until the virus passes.

Treating bacteria is another thing because when bacteria goes untreated it can cause many problems. Strep, for example, if untreated can cause problems in the brain.

Outside of those two things, when it comes to medicating for other reasons it mostly does come down money. I think there are very few exceptions where medications are necessary to live a functional life (i.e. epilepsy, mental illnesses, etc).

I do also feel like when I have gone to the doctor and tried to talk to them about something they either want to give me the quick fix or simply don't know what to do. I have found that as an adult it is really easier to go to the doctor who specializes in the problem rather than a family doctor. I'm not sure if you can do that with kids, but it would be nice. You also can't do it with an HMO.

I did read that pediatrician's schedule 10 minutes for sick visits, and close to 20 or even 30 for well visits. So well visits are the time to ask your questions, or call and make an appointment just talk to the doctor so they can schedule extra time for you to do so.

We haven't had the problems with Julia that you guys have had with Caleb so my opinion isn't worth too much. But we learned quickly to make a list of questions for our pediatrician even at well visits or our questions don't get answered.

phat said...

Thanks Cynthia, points noted.

Just a little devils advocate for some of your points.

1. Yes, some bacteria could better be treated with medications, but for ear infections, for instance, there has been some debate on whether antibiotics actually inhibit the bodies defense mechanisms and further the chance of future ear infections.

2. On having a list going to the pediatrician. Absolutely. Most of the time we have a list. I think the case with ezcema (in my footnote), I am speculating that the pediatrician might have thought we were overreacting over a natural baby rash, and was maybe to busy or preoccupied with all the other patients that she had to meet in a limited amount of time. There a some patients who go over the allotted 30 minutes. Anyways, my whole point was that perhaps doctors are too quick to pull the prescription trigger rather than asking more fundamental (and possibly probing but necessary) questions.

Thanks Cynthia for your response. I am just going off my own experience and a little research on the web and just wanted to hear what others had to say.

Ben Martin said...

Matt and Rachael,
my response is in the form of a blog post, please go to:
Everyone should read this.

Cynthia said...

Ben's blog was quite informative. I had NO idea that chiropractic adjustments could do so much.

Anyway, I almost feel like doctors take advantage of new parents (we've discussed my breastfeeding experience before). Ben's point that we, as parents, don't want to see our children in pain is true. I felt that way the moment I found out I was pregnant. It's one reason why I was scared to have a boy because I didn't want the circumcision to cause pain. I think it is easiest for medical professionals to give into us not wanting our child to be in pain rather than do what is BEST for their immune systems.

I have also noticed that when alternative medicines come up in conversations with doctors they tend to not believe that it actually works. That is also what I have viewed on the news.

What do you think about alternative medicine?

phat said...

Ben and Carley, great blog on Chiropractics. I absolutely believe that it is a great alternative to the general belief of going to the doctor for all wellness.

Cynthia, I absolutely believe in alternative medicines. I guess my own definition of alternate are natural remedies for health issues. Whether they are better is my question. I believe that doctors have advanced tools and methods to diagnose a problem (which is good), but in my view, it is rare to find one who will suggest natural remedies over the more popular Rx drugs.