By Kennedy Shelley
Do we hurt ourselves when we spend our time worrying about symptoms instead of solving the real problem for the disease?
Let’s say you have a painful splinter in your finger, and you go to the doctor. You tell him “my finger hurts.” You all see the big splinter in your finger.
Treating the symptoms means he gives you pain killers or a nerve block for your arm so your finger no longer hurts and sends you home and does not touch the splinter.
That may seem stupid, but isn’t that what is happening now with many treatments for some diseases?
The smart thing is to realize that the pain is a signal from the body that you have a splinter and need to remove it.
NOT ALL SYMPTOMS ARE DISEASE
Most people and some doctors treat fever as a disease. It isn’t, it is a symptom of a disease that can be suppressed by medication.
But the fever is not the disease, it is one of several possible symptoms that show your body is fighting a bacterial or viral infection.
One of the problems many have is they take a fever-reducing medicine before seeing a doctor and the infection is missed because for six hours their fever is chemically reduced.
So, suppression of a symptom may lead to a missed diagnosis. But there are other problems with this.
Your body fights infections best when the internal body temperature is elevated a few degrees.
This requires a great deal of fuel.
Your metabolism speeds up 10% for every degree your body temperature increases. So, this is not something your body does lightly, but the effects are positive.
If you have the flu for instance, taking fever-reducing medicine increases the chance of death by 5% according to an article in the National Review of Immunology in 2015.
That is a good reason to avoid taking aspirin.
An article in Critical Care in 2017 actually showed that fever makes antibiotics work better, slows down the growth of infection and helps you recover more quickly.
An article in Lung in 2017 showed that reducing a fever worsens the results of people with pneumonia.
Sometimes symptoms of a disease are what you want, not something to be suppressed.
GETTING TO THE ROOT CAUSE
While we can see this with fairly simple problems like splinters and fever but is the medical community making a similar mistake with chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes?
What is the presenting symptom of type 2 diabetes? High glucose levels. Doctors treat it with increasing the amount of insulin.
But what is the root cause of the disease? Why is there not enough insulin in the blood to take care of this extra glucose? Is there something else that can be done to reduce glucose?
Virta Health has released the results of their two-year trial and they have shown that type 2 diabetes can be reversed or ended simply by reducing the amount of carbohydrates in the diet.
This is treating the cause and not the symptoms.
And in many ways, this is the discussion people need to be having with their doctor about important chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
By treating the root cause instead of covering up symptoms can or may save your life or your health.