Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fix it NOW, Doc!

Fast food medicine- that seems to be what people want these days. In all of our society, we have instant gratification. If you call John, and he's not there- call his cell phone or text him.  Many people answer their cell phones in public bathrooms, or worse, in the middle of a pelvic exam (seriously!) Snap a picture of your child, and immediately, they run to your digital camera to see it. 
Sadly, people are demanding this same instant fix in medicine, and doctors are providing it. Got heartburn? Grab the purple pill. Can't sleep? Your glass of wine didn't relax you enough? No worries- take a sleeping pill. Too tired in the morning? Slam back a Starbucks. Caffeine and alcohol causing heartburn? Back to the purple pill! And...repeat.
Let me give a ridiculous example to illustrate my point. Say you decided it was fun to pick up a rock and hit your knee repetitively (work with me, here.) Not surprisingly, your knee begins to hurt. You go to the doctor, and he or she prescribes a pain pill. Is this going to solve your problem? No, of course not! The problem is NOT the pain, the problem is you hitting your knee with a rock. 
So, why is it any different when you go to your doctor with heartburn, and you get a prescription for an acid blocking pill instead of education to at least temporarily wean off caffeine,  eliminate alcohol and nicotine, and avoid ibuprofen? (Hopefully, you'll get both, but I think we all know most people will pop the pills, get relief, and continue the habits that caused the problem.)
BOTTOM LINE: We have been trained by the media and our lifestyles to expect a quick and easy fix. Let's dig deeper and stop shopping for fast-food medicine. My next several posts will address common problems that we tend to band-aid with pills instead of lifestyle changes.

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