When you have a Chronic illness, you strive to manage it. The better your illness is managed, the better your health actually becomes. And better health equates to the best quality of life. Are you with me? Better. Better. Better. Best!
Inevitably, this management or maintenance leads to a lot of questions. Should we try this medicine? Perhaps, if we tried that supplement? Or maybe, we ought to consider a vaccine? We are literally bombarded with ads — marketing medications, vaccines, supplements, etc. They’re everywhere, i.e. television, the internet, magazines, newspapers, etc. But does that mean we actually need the product? Ask your doctor. You might be surprised by his or her answer!
Typically, if you have a Chronic illness, you are more vulnerable than an individual who is in excellent health. That doesn’t mean that you need anything and everything available. It means that your needs are based upon your age, health issues, etc. So, again, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Take the guess-work and anxiety, out of the equation.
Last Fall, I was stricken with a case of shingles. It was horrendous — far worse than the chickenpox that I remember having in second grade. From the blisters to the nerve pain (that took nearly 3 months to subside), it was a brutal experience. Need I say, I became very focused on getting the vaccine. But, when I discussed it with my doctor, I was told to wait a year (at least). Having shingles allowed my body’s immune system to develop a memory of the exposure. In other words, it boosted my immunity against the virus. Obviously, this protection doesn’t last forever. And compromised immune systems are more vulnerable. Still, after talking to my doctor, I felt relieved to know that my body has a measure of protection against this virus. So, I’m planning on my annual flu shot instead.
Supplements can be used effectively and abused. None of us need the latter. The American Medical Association recommends a multivitamin supplement for all adults. Are you taking one, daily? As for additional supplements, talk to your doctor. Some can be helpful, depending upon your medical history and health. Others can possibly do more harm than good. A study, published in The New England Medical Journal in 2015, found that adverse effects of supplements were responsible for over 22K emergency department or ED visits every year. And approximately 10% of these cases resulted in admission to the hospital!
Call me old fashioned, but … prescription medications just aren’t meant to marketed like shampoo to the general public. Anyone who is chronically ill is a sometimes desperate and vulnerable consumer. Yet, this is the reality that we now live in. If you feel that your current medication isn’t working well, discuss this with your doctor. Talk about your options. Please, don’t walk into his or her office with a specific ad or medication in mind. What may work for some, may be totally wrong for you. And, by all means, take your prescribed medication as it is directed. Many patients take unnecessary risks with medications. It is harmful — even deadly.
All of which brings us back to the initial question that entitles this piece: Do you need that? Let your doctor, not a marketing campaign or your BFF, decide!