My car has an unnerving ability to scare the bejesus out of me with it’s monitoring system.
It emits a piercing 2-second tone whenever I’m within 50 miles or less of needing to refill the gas tank. The same thing happens when the tire pressure drops, a tail light goes out, or when it’s time for an oil change. Basically, this tone will sound if anything malfunctions, prompting me to have it inspected. It won’t “go away” until I address the issue that triggered the warning tone.
While not every car on the road has this feature, every person reading this article does. You see, our bodies are designed with their own sophisticated warning systems. They’re called symptoms.
For some reason (convenience?), a lot of patients and doctors aren’t overly concerned with why the symptoms are present – they just want them to go away. One of the marvelous accomplishments of Modern Medicine is how they’ve created drugs and treatments that are really good at controlling these symptoms… Unfortunately, it’s almost always temporary. On top of that, serious complications or side-effects can result.
I’ve developed an acronym that represents how Americans view SYMPTOMs:
Something You Merely Patch, Treat, Or Mask.
What if I applied the typical medical approach of symptom-treating to the monitoring system in my car? Well, if I really didn’t want to hear the annoying sound, I could just drive around with noise-canceling headphones over my ears. If you’ve ever tried on a pair, you’d know how easily the “symptom” can be masked by these headphones.
But would that be a very good idea? If all I did was treat my car’s symptom, I’d inevitably run out of gas, get a flat tire, or witness my engine explode. Not good problems to have…
The same holds true for your health. Your body has all sorts of different warning indicators. Headaches, fatigue, dry-mouth, joint pain, numbness/tingling, constipation, and fever are just a few examples. Yes, they’re annoying and inconvenient, but that’s the point! They’re prompting you to take action and fix the problem.
You can choose to patch, treat, or mask these symptoms temporarily, but your body will eventually give out if you continue to neglect what triggered them in the first place.
Now’s a great time to start listening to your body. What are your symptoms trying to tell you?
Great post Doc! I will have to repost this one on my blog if you don’t mind.
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