Should I Call the Doctor?

We live in a society where more and more frequently we turn to the doctor for advice about a symptom.  No wonder insurance premiums are through the roof, when we are taking not only ourselves, but our children, to the doctor multiple times for the same symptoms.  Let's talk turkey about when to call the doctor. The human body is designed to produce a symptom when it is out of balance, just like a car will produce a screeching sound when a belt has to be replaced.  However, your car won't go very far once the belt breaks, yet the human body can adapt to a broken belt and keep going.  This is why a symptom journal comes in handy.  It allows you to track symptoms and see if there is a pattern.  You can determine the length of time you experience a symptom and rate the severity of the symptom.  Rating it as mild, irritating and interfering are my favorite three ways to score a symptom.

By keeping a journal, you can see if something is just occasional or really recurring.  A recurring symptom is one that you want to pay attention to.  It is a sign that keeps reappearing because the underlying imbalance that produces the symptom is not being handled by the body and so it needs to be addressed.  But occasional symptoms are simply the ebb and flow of the body's daily life.

A journal also can point out what might be the most likely reason for a symptom.  For instance, stomach pain within 1 hour of eating is definitely the stomach, while 3 hours later would be the small intestine.  Stomach pain that triggers the urge to have a bowel movement or is made better by a bowel movement is actually a colon issue.  So many people automatically assume any stomach pain is really the stomach leading to costly and time-consuming tests at the doctor's office of the stomach to find out there is nothing wrong.

Once you determine over time that a symptom is recurring, then it's time to do something about it.  Now remember, the doctor really only has 15 minutes that insurance will pay for as the standard examination time.  The doctor also will most likely only be scheduling tests for you, or perhaps offering a prescription because he doesn't have x-vision, nor is he a psychic.  So you have to allow him to offer a diagnosis from the tools he uses.

The person who is best suited to narrow down the possibilities is you.  So do it before you go to the doctor. That way you have real information to offer about your condition.  Your journal will help you do this.  Now when you boot up your computer and click on that little internet icon, remember that 80% of what you read is not fact, but opinion, and often a ridiculous, over-inflated, screaming banshee kind of opinion.  So you have to pick and choose your information about your symptom.  My advice is to always choose the least scary-sounding reason that matches your journal's information.  90% of the time, that's the right option.

But to really know what is happening, stop and see your Naturopath.  Your Naturopathic Physician can help you narrow down even further if something is amiss and what it is, and can offer some natural options to try before resorting to the land of pharmaceuticals and surgery.  Now those certainly have their place, but many times, natural options can work more effectively with no side effects and bring you back to the land of bouncing happiness.

Which leads me to the real time to call the doctor - when something is severe.  If your symptoms not only do not dissipate, but worsen and become daily or debilitating, then the conventional doctor is the place to go.  Often natural medicine takes time to work its magic, and if you are in severe distress, you may not have time.  So go the conventional route first, then come back to the Naturopath for follow-up advice.

Recently clinical studies have pointed out times when you have been taught to think you should see the doctor, but in fact, have turned out not to be the best decision.  Here are those research results:

Pap screenings - Women have been taught that pap screenings must be done annually.  But research has shown that when testing is done that frequently, or begun before the age of 21, there is a higher chance that simple lesions or viral remnants that would resolve on their own, are mistakenly seen as pre-cancerous and lead to costly and damaging tests, procedures and misdiagnoses.  The truth is that evidence shows screening for cervical cancer more often than every three years provides no higher detection rate, than if it was every year.

Mammograms - One recent study showed that mammograms are only 3-13% effective in saving a life from breast cancer.  This is because most tumors that develop are never life-threatening, causing women to once again endure costly, damaging and dangerous over-treatment, including the most recent concept of genetic testing in order to recommend preventative mastectomies.

Colds and flus - It is never a good idea to go to the doctor for a cold or flu unless you are elderly, an infant or debilitated from disease.  Otherwise, it would work itself out over time.  We just tend not to want to wait, nor to be held back from our busy lives.  The best remedy?  Rest, nutrition, Vitamin C & D and sweat.

High Cholesterol - Here's the BIG thing to remember: a high cholesterol and high fat diet are not the cause of heart disease, stroke or heart attack.  Research suggests that statin drugs like sinvastatin or Lipitor do not prolong your life and actually destroy your life by weakening the liver, kidneys, degenerating muscle tissue and even reducing heart function.  The best solution?  Eat healthy saturated fats, take Cod Liver oil daily, exercise and consider Soybean Lecithin.

Depression - The scary number here is that each year there are more than 230 million prescriptions given out for antidepressants.  But research shows that these drugs come with multiple side effects, including risk of suicide.  Also, they often still leave the person with sadness, depression and whatever physical symptoms they had when they came into the office.  Don't take an antidepressant.  Turn to natural options like exercise, NMT or NET, Vitamin D, Inositol, St. John's Wort or homeopathic options like Heel's miraculous Tonico-Heel.

High Blood Pressure - Historically blood pressure was seen as a fluctuating factor depending on the moment.  That hasn't changed.  What has changed is the volume of drug company investments in keeping blood pressure low, leading to a lowering of the overall standard for healthy blood pressure.  Uncontrolled high blood pressure is serious, but keeping a person's blood pressure artificially low isn't the solution.  And drugs actually suppress blood pressure to such a degree that people can start having dizzy spells, feel weak or tired and even lose consciousness.  This is due to the fluctuating nature of blood pressure, something that drugs cannot manage.  But Mistletoe can.  This wonderful herb is perfect for fluctuating blood pressure, along with Hawthorn which helps to regulate blood pressure and support the heart.  Regular massage therapy has also been clinically shown to reduce blood pressure substantially.  And it feels a lot better than taking a drug!

PSA Testing for Prostate Cancer - I have already written a number of articles about PSA testing, but even more evidence shows that they reveal very little that is relevant to cancer detection and will most often lead to a biopsy that has a very high infection risk.  I have had patients who have suffered with the scar tissue from this biopsy procedure for years, causing need for additional procedures just to fix the results of the first procedure.  The false positive rate for PSA screenings is very high, and the truth is that this test was NEVER developed to detect for cancer.  Even the founder of the PSA method has said that this is a dangerous way to screen for cancer, and that it is not effective in doing that.

The last thing to consider when reaching for the phone, is that your doctor is a human being.  So they make mistakes and like most humans don't want to admit that.  They also are concerned for their own family, lifestyle and wellbeing, so they won't tell you that they are receiving financial compensation from drug companies and even medical device manufacturers.  A recent survey of 1,900 physicians proves the point.  10% said they had lied to their patients, 40% hide their financial gains from drug and device companies from patients, and 30% have not told a patient when an error has been made in their care.

So ask questions, do your own research, and don't automatically say yes to anything.  Say yes to something because you believe the answer should be yes.  Don't make your doctor into a god, and don't pressure your doctor for an immediate solution because you have a meeting in 30 minutes.  Allow the doctor to do their own research, follow their own protocol for determining the best course of action.  Use them for their wisdom, education and advice.  But do what you think is best for you, because you are the only one who knows exactly what that is.