Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Knowing when to go to the doctor

This interesting article was on NPR the other day:

For Headaches, A Lifestyle Change May Be Better Than A Doctor Visit

They have a point when they say that patients are better informed than ever, and often go into the doctor with an idea of what is wrong with them and what they want to do about it.  That's what this article is about, how often -- with headaches -- what people really need is to exercise more, eat better, sleep better, or something of the like, rather than going through lots of potentially harmful tests and taking potentially harmful medication.

Of course, as someone on Facebook commented, if they hadn't gone to the doctor for their headaches, they'd be dead of cancer.  Sometimes going to the doctor IS the right decision.

So how do you know which one?

I think an honest look at your life is important.  If you know that you're doing things that maybe aren't the best thing for you, like being too sedentary, you owe it to yourself to try to change your habits before you go to the doctor and submit yourself to lots of tests and medication.

The other important thing to consider is sudden changes.  If you never got headaches before and suddenly you're getting horrible ones, and there haven't been any abrupt changes in your life to explain such a change in your physical health, then of course, get ye to the doctor!

I don't think this article is saying not to go to the doctor, ever.  It's saying that we as a society are tending toward being overtreated, and we need to exercise a little common sense (and probably just plain exercise a little more, too).

On that note, I also think it's interesting that exercise often reduces chronic headaches.  It makes sense, of course, because I think a lot of our health issues come from the fact that our culture is becoming increasingly more sedentary (as well as increasingly more overfed).  Let's face it: Our bodies are made for exercise, and the lack of it can cause health problems, as well as just overall not feeling as well as we could.

Diabetics especially: If you are reading this, whether you suffer from headaches or just the effects of having diabetes, get out and exercise more!  And exercising doesn't mean just walking around the block, no.  Your doctor just said that because he thought that was probably the best he'd get out of you.  Prove him wrong and find an active hobby that will allow you to have fun and improve your physical fitness at the same time!

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