We Are Our Brother’s Keeper

Mental Health America is a non-profit that is dedicated to the needs of those with Mental illness and their families. While you may have not heard of them, the organization was founded in 1909. For over 65 years, they have turned the month of May into a time of awareness. With over 200 affiliates in 41 states, MHA is a hardworking national as well as grassroots advocacy. And the need is real.

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Unlike other Chronic illnesses, Mental illness is more difficult to diagnose. There is no simple blood-test, or x-ray. But strides have been made in the process, with the help of modern neuroimaging and genetics. Scientists today are working to uncover the biological keys of mental disorders. And the more that we learn … the more we can help patients to lead better lives. Healthier ones.

If you or a loved one has a Chronic illness, this should be something to applaud and pray for. No matter the initial diagnosis, i.e. Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Heart Disease, Cancer, etc., many chronically ill patients [at one time or another] will also be diagnosed with Depression and/or Anxiety. Setbacks can take a toll — physically, emotionally & mentally. Such forms of Mental illness can often be like that uninvited house-guest and much more troubling. Overcoming one becomes a separate struggle in itself — a difficult complication. Often times, an overwhelming one. 

Chronically Mentally Ill is a medical (and legal) term for a patient who has been diagnosed with a major mental disorder by a licensed physician, i.e. Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, etc. Their illness has led to at least one hospitalization. It impairs their ability to work, their relationships, their thinking and their mood. 

The prevalence of Mental illness in American society isn’t a myth. It isn’t an issue that we can afford to avoid. From the Christian perspective, we are our brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9, NIV). God challenges us to think of others and not just ourselves. For those less devout, consider the numbers involved. Approximately, 1 in 5 adults struggle with a form of Mental illness. That’s over 48M people. And 1 in 25 adults, roughly 9M, live with a serious Mental illness. Over 20% of our youth experience a severe Mental disorder, at some point in their lives. 

From the social standpoint, 26% of America’s homeless are living on the streets with a serious Mental illness. About 46% live with a severe Mental illness or substance use disorder. If they are lucky, they are able to find refuge in a shelter. If that shelter has an on-site clinic, they can get the medical attention that they need. But, often times, these individuals receive little help — becoming recipients of sporadic, revolving-door healthcare. Just over 50% of America’s children, ages 8-15, received mental health services last year. Did you know that half of all Chronic Mental illness presents itself by the age of 14? Three-fourths will show symptoms, by age 24. And, unfortunately, long delays can exist in treatment. This isn’t uncommon, no matter the socioeconomic factors involved. Years, sometimes decades, can pass from the time symptoms first appear until medical treatment is actually received.

As a result, Mental illness costs America over $190B in lost earnings each year. Approximately 37% of students with a Mental health condition, who are being served by Special Education will drop-out (ages 14-21). Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death. More than 90% of children who die from suicide suffer from a form of Mental illness. It’s also estimated that we are losing 18-22 military veterans every day to suicide. Most mentally ill patients are not violent. That noted, 3-5% of all violence — including those where firearms are used — can be attributed to serious mental illness. These facts cannot be ignored. The loss … the pain … endured by patients and families is really immeasurable. The loss to our society goes without saying. These patients/families need our  support. We are facing a crisis that, left unattended, will surely worsen. 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It isn’t the time to look the other way, or pretend that the facts do not exist. It isn’t the time to try and convince yourself that this “problem” doesn’t concern you. We are all in this journey called life, together. Now is the time to embrace the statistics … look in the mirror … and ask, “How can I make a difference?”

 

Reference Links:

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/about-us

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/06/roots.aspx

https://definitions.uslegal.com/c/chronically-mentally-ill/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/chronic-mental-illnesses

https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Images/FactSheets/Bipolar-Disorder-FS.pdf

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK218235/

https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers

http://www.amhca.org/blogs/joel-miller/2017/10/03/gun-violence-and-mental-illnessmyths-and-evidence-based-facts

* Photo by Francisco Moreno on Unsplash

 

 

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The Environment & Chronic Illness

When society is asked to think about Chronic illnesses, most people point a finger at a patient’s lifestyle and/or genetics. That’s the culprit, they declare. Some go as far as to say that patients have created their health problems, no matter how young a patient may be. They show little empathy or interest. To be blunt, many could care less. But, in reality, these individuals are misinformed. A patient can change their lifestyle, i.e. quit smoking, diet, exercise, etc. Most do so, or at least try. But they cannot control their genetics. Nor do they have the power to create a pristine environment to live in. In fact, much of the environment is out of their hands. And the environment, more than genetics, causes Chronic illnesses.

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How does this happen? That’s not completely understood. But exposure to contaminants is a start. For a moment, consider some of the well-known environmental disasters: Love Canal, NY; the Hinkley, CA, Groundwater Contamination; Woburn, MA; even Chernobyl. When the environment suffers, it eventually effects all living things. The air that we breathe enters our bodies. The water that we bathe in and drink effects us, too. More recent examples are Flint, MI, and Puerto Rico. 

The water crisis in Flint is believed to have caused a deadly Legionnaire’s epidemic. It is also believed to have caused a pneumonia outbreak. Such illnesses place those with Chronic diseases at an even greater risk than the general population. Other maladies include rashes, hair loss, etc. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, 2M people are living with water contamination in Puerto Rico. Bacteria, like E.coli, is still present in the island’s water system — indicating fecal matter has contaminated the water supply. But these environmental problems go far beyond Flint or Puerto Rico. It’s national.

Bald Eagles are dying from lead exposure, in the Pacific Northwest. Fish and other forms of wildlife are suffering, elsewhere. Contaminants are toxic. Their effects on the body are widely documented. In fact, lead exposure in water is as much of an issue today as it was a century ago. And it finds its way into our drinking systems. By estimation, over 6M American homes still have lead service pipes. And over 80M homes have lead solder and lead-bearing brass fixtures. A little more than a half century ago, few chemicals were considered hazards to children (or adults for that matter). In the last 30 years, we have learned that children are especially vulnerable to such exposures. 

Occupational environments can also expose individuals to risks. Mesothelioma is one example. Asbestos exposure is the main cause. Over 700,000 buildings in America, including schools, may still contain this material. Asbestos exposure has taken place in a variety of jobs, i.e. Shipyards, Manufacturing, Mines, Construction, etc. Second-hand exposure has also been noted, in family members. Our military personnel have suffered from environmental exposures, too. Agent Orange and other herbicides have been linked to forms of Cancer as well as other Chronic illnesses. A Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, in 2009, narrowed the cause of Gulf War Syndrome to:  Chemical Nerve Agents, Pesticides and the use of Pyridostigmine Bromide pills.

On a global scale, approximately 1 in 4 deaths is caused by an environmental factor. This involves numerous Chronic illness, i.e. Asthma, COPD, Cancers, Heart Disease, Stroke, etc. The numbers are staggering. An Environmental illness can be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms are similar to those found in other illnesses. But it can be done, with the help of knowing a patient’s exposure history (or the possibility of their exposure). 133M Americans live with a form of Chronic illness. In a few short years, that number will exceed 150M. We really cannot afford, as a society, to ignore the facts. Those who are healthy today, may be suffering in the future. The environment effects us all.

 

Reference Links:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22199396https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22199396

htmlhttp://www.humanillnesses.com/original/E-Ga/Environmental-Diseases.html

https://www.acsh.org/news/2016/09/21/globally-about-1-4-human-deaths-are-due-environmental-factors-10198

http://www.env-health.org/IMG/pdf/110913_HEAL_fact_sheet_-_Chronic_disease_and_environment-final.pdf

http://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/about/news/2016/ferrie-lead-water.html

https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-73970_71692-373401–,00.html

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/mekela-panditharatne/over-2-million-puerto-ricans-risk-bacteria-water

https://www.webmd.com/allergies/tc/environmental-illness-overview#1

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805986/

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/malignant-mesothelioma/causes-risks-prevention/what-causes.html

https://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/risk-factors/asbestos-exposure.htm

https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/

https://www.army.mil/article/21654/researchers_narrow_gulf_war_syndrome_causes

*Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

A Quiet Place …

Before Christ fed the 5,000 — a miracle detailed in all four of the Gospels — he sought rest for himself and his disciples. He did so without reservation. He didn’t scold anyone. Nor was he embarrassed. Christ embraced the idea of resting.

Why then do patients with Chronic illnesses hate to rest? Their reasons are as varied as the individuals themselves. But often times they include feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, stubbornness, etc. Society still has its stigmas. We live with them, daily. If you or a loved one has a Chronic illness, you may be all too aware of these stigmas. You may even fear being negatively labeled as a result of one. Yet, modern medicine tells us that rest is vital to managing Chronic diseases. Forgive my bluntness but … you can rest now, or you can regret it later. The choice is yours.

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  “… Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”                                         –Mark 6:31 (NIV)

Work and fatigue are not a good mix. We all know that. Yet, most jobs seem to demand more of us every year. Longer hours. Greater stress. Deadlines. Responsibilities. It adds up. And it can take its toll.

The decision to disclose a Chronic illness to your employer, or co-workers, is a very personal one. Some may be comfortable with doing so. Others may not. Whichever path you choose is up to you. But you do need to educate yourself on the fine points of The Family Leave Act. It may come in handy, one day.

If your employer has 50+ employees, and you have been working there for at least 12 months, this law applies to you. Although it isn’t paid leave, it provides the opportunity to rest and recuperate. If you have vacation time, sick time, or personal time, etc., saved up with your employer, you can use it along with your FMLA. In the imperfect world of Chronic disease, this provides a chance to take a much needed pause in the daily grind. It gives a caregiver the time that he or she needs with a loved one. Oftentimes, a small boost is all that is required to regain control of your illness.

Severe pain is also a way of life, for many chronically ill patients. When the pain worsens at night, sleep becomes disrupted. A few of the medications used to treat these diseases are also known to cause sleep problems. If that isn’t overwhelming enough, some patients may struggle with Anxiety or Depression as well. This too makes sleep/rest difficult. If you are having any of these issues, please talk to your doctor. Usually, if the pain can be controlled, you will be able to achieve adequate rest. Consider trying these tips:

  • Limit your daily consumption of caffeine & alcohol
  • Sleep in a dark room
  • Keep noise down
  • Maintain a comfortable room temperature
  • Try a p.m. snack of foods known to induce sleep, i.e. walnuts, almonds, cheese & crackers, chamomile tea, passionfruit tea, or cherry juice

If you are still having sleep difficulties, your doctor may prescribe a medication that can help. When a medication is used, it is best to do so for a limited amount of time (2 weeks or less) to avoid dependency. 

Rest isn’t too much to ask. It’s a necessity for our bodies. So, be kind to yourself. Realize your limitations. Accept that you aren’t invincible. It’s okay. A nap isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a chance to power-up. What may look like an indulgence to some is really a way to maintain control of your Chronic illness. So, use it wisely. Rest plays a vital role in making the most of every day. Denial does not. 

Your work schedule and/or workload may have to be examined, at some point. A leave may become necessary. This isn’t unusual, either. Setbacks happen. Approximately 133M Americans live with a form of Chronic illness. Millions are juggling more than one. Most remain within the workforce. You are not alone. Remember that.

No one is expecting any of us to perform a miracle. But we are still expecting a lot. Let’s be honest, we have goals — you, me and everyone like us. We have plans … dreams … bucket lists, etc. We want to be productive. Successful. Involved. Yes, we have a Chronic illness/es. And we manage it. We want to make the most out of living. Perhaps, the best way to achieve these things is by following Christ’s example? Rest. And it starts with a quiet place …

 

Reference Links:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/turning-straw-gold/201704/when-our-chronically-ill-bodies-say-rest-why-dont-we

https://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/employeeguide.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/chronic_disease.html

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-chronic-illness

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/managing-long-term-illness-and-chronic-conditions

https://health.usnews.com/health-care/for-better/articles/2016-11-21/coping-with-the-regret-that-surrounds-a-chronic-illness

* Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Seeds & A Healthy Garden …

Spring is in the air, for most of us. With it, there always seems to be that surge of Spring fever that hits this time of year — an opportunity to rid ourselves of the old and bring in the new. We visit garden centers … plant seeds … fertilize soil … and nourish all that grows. Then, we cross our dirty fingers and say a prayer — hoping for a good outcome. Our lives — our bodies — are gardens, too. Remember? Though it would be easier to care for them, on a seasonal basis, it isn’t the best of choices.

If you have a Chronic illness, you know this all too well. It is a 24/7 job just trying to keep up, i.e. symptoms, treatment, doctor’s appointments, routine tests, medications, side-effects, surgery, therapy, etc. Somewhere on that long list, you have to fit in your work schedule … time for your friends and family … even some exercise. You have to avoid too much stress, when your illness seems to literally breed it. You may need to limit, or omit alcohol. And your diet may also need fine-tuning. Some days, it feels pretty overwhelming. Other days, you just want to give up. You may even console yourself by saying, “I can’t do it all!” But if you have a digestive condition like Diverticulitis … managing your diet is key to managing your disease and your life. You have to do better than try. You must prioritize how you eat.

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Diverticulitis is an inflammation, or infection, of the diverticula (small pouches) in the walls of the intestines. Abscesses can develop, as well as perforation of the bowel. The disease may present itself as acute or chronic. In its acute form, Diverticulitis is one or more attacks with periods of stability in-between. Chronic Diverticulitis never clears completely. It is a daily health issue. With time, the disease can cause a variety of complications. Often times, surgery is required.

Exercise, diet and fluid consumption (especially water) play intricate roles in managing Diverticulitis. If you have been diagnosed, you should try to exercise for 30 minutes on most days. It will promote normal bowel function and reduce pressure on your colon. A High-fiber diet will reduce your risk of a disease flare-up. Fiber in your diet absorbs water. This will aid in eliminating wastes from the body.

It was once thought that seeds and nuts aggravated Diverticulitis. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has proven this to be untrue. There was no correlation between eating nuts, seeds or popcorn and uncomplicated diverticular disease. There was also no significant association between ingesting fruits with small seeds, i.e. blueberries, strawberries, etc., and complications to Diverticulitis. So, by all means, enjoy such foods.

All of these steps promote a healthier colon. And a healthier colon equates to a happier you. Once you are diagnosed with a Chronic illness, lifestyle changes are often beneficial to your overall well-being. There are no cures. But you can choose to make the most out of every day. And choices matter. Maintain a healthy garden and enjoy living!

 

Reference Links:

https://www.ajronline.org/doi/full/10.2214/AJR.07.3597

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16885698

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diverticulitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20371758

https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/understanding-diverticulitis-basics

https://www.badgut.org/information-centre/health-nutrition/who-says-you-cant-eat-nuts/

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/diverticulosis-diverticulitis/eating-diet-nutrition

* Photo by Jannis Brandt on Unsplash

Addison’s Awareness & Butterflies …

The next time you are sitting in a garden, or on a park bench … admiring the beauty … soaking-up the warmth of early Spring … look around and see if you can spot a butterfly. Watch them as they glide through the air … fluttering from one flower to the next … teasing your senses … almost daring you to follow them. Then, try to take note of how many — if any — are blue. As strange as it may sound, blue butterflies are rare. The Palos Verdes Blue is the rarest butterfly in the world. Perhaps, this has helped to make blue butterflies the perfect symbol for a lot of things including Addison’s Disease? Approximately, 40-60 people out of every million are diagnosed with Addison’s. It too is rare and deserves our attention. Since April is Addison’s Disease Awareness Month, there is no better time to start a discussion …

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Addison’s, also known as Adrenal Insufficiency Disorder, is the result of severe or total deficiency of the hormones that are made in the Adrenal cortex. The Adrenal glands, located above each kidney, are two endocrine (hormone producing) glands that function as one. Addison’s effects both genders, equally. It discriminates against no one. Onset of the disease usually occurs between 20-50 years of age. However, young children and teens have also been diagnosed. And Addison’s can be life-threatening.

The symptoms usually develop slowly, but they should never be ignored:

  • Hyperpigmentation of the skin
  • Severe fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Gastrointestinal issues, i.e. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Salt cravings

If you, or a loved one, has experienced any of these symptoms, you should see your physician immediately. Early diagnosis is crucial to a patient’s quality of life, even years after the disease first presents itself.

Simple tests, along with a discussion of your medical history, are used to make the diagnosis. Treatment for Addison’s will include Hormone Replacement Therapy to correct levels in the patient’s body. This may be administered orally, or by injection. Sodium intake is also important, especially if it is hot weather … rigorous exercise is planned … or stomach issues are present.

April is Addison’s Awareness Month. So, read about it. Talk about it. Google it. Help others to be more informed. Addison’s patients are just like everyone else. They have dreams, goals, jobs and plans. They go to school, work and marry. They enjoy the same things that the rest of us do, i.e. movies, sports, shopping, music, painting, travel, etc. Illness does not define them. It is just part of who they are. And they are capable of great things. One of them became the 35th President of the United States!

Chronic illness, if anything, teaches patience and perseverance. Addison’s patients know this. They live by it. And they have normal life expectancy. So, please, treat them normally. They are our loved ones, friends, neighbors and co-workers. They just have Addison’s. They manage their condition. They live their lives. And if we can offer a little encouragement … a smile … some support … it’s appreciated. Understanding, like acceptance, matters.

Remember those butterflies? Each one goes through four life stages, before it gets its wings. Yet, the end result is beautiful. The next time you see one, whether it is blue or not, think about Addison’s Disease. Then, spread the word. Awareness is priceless!

 

Reference Links:

https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/addisons-disease/

http://www.nadf.us/adrenal-diseases/addisons-disease/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/addisons-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20350293

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/addisons-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350296

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=90&ContentID=P01979

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23322510

https://www.dailystrength.org/group/addison-s-disease

http://www.butterflyinsight.com/blue-butterfly-color-meaning-and-myths.html

*Photo by Ashley Rich on Unsplash

It Is Well With My Soul

If you have a Chronic illness, then you have experienced that Twilight Zone moment when your diagnosis was first given. A part of you is hearing what the doctor is saying. The other part is almost in shock — engulfed with disbelief. This is the start of an emotional, physical and often times spiritual rollercoaster. One that none of us asked to ride on. One that seems hopelessly out of our control. Or is it? I have heard the diagnosis of a Chronic illness, more than once. Multiples are not unusual. Millions of patients can attest to that. And I have asked, “Why me?” But I have also asked, “Why not me?” One of the most important things that any patient of a Chronic illness can do is embrace it. Those words are easier said than done. I know. Still, they beg the question: Have you accepted your diagnosis?

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A Chronic illness is not the same as being terminally ill. Yet, there are five stages of grief involved: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. The life you had is gone. This is your new normal. Many of the things that you once did are lost to an affliction that you didn’t ask for. And, if you are like most patients, you don’t feel that you deserve. It’s a lot to take in. It doesn’t seem fair. Why is this happening? You lament about what you could have done differently. Some seem to have done everything right and still they are diagnosed with a Chronic illness. It’s confusing, irritating and overwhelming. While you are trying to cope with medications, treatment, side-effects, lifestyle changes, symptoms and emotions … you may also be wrestling with your spiritual beliefs.

Faith is easy to have, when life is good. It becomes a different ballgame, in difficult times. Some people question their faith, when life gets hard. They may even become angry with God — confused by the turmoil that has engulfed their comfort zone. Often times, adults drift away from church and faith. There isn’t a specific reason. It just happens. The diagnosis of a Chronic illness can bring them back. They now need the assurance, hope and peace that faith provided. Those things they shrugged aside — took for granted. For others, who have never had a religious belief system, difficulty can actually lead them to faith. It’s a very personal walk, down an often lonely path. If you are struggling with your faith, you may be asking, “Why did God let this happen to me?” And that’s a good question. We don’t always understand why, at the moment we are going through an ordeal. It may take months — even years — to know. But one day, we will understand (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Personally, I believe that God has a plan for each of us. To get us where He needs us, God uses every tool. He doesn’t create our suffering, but he allows good to flourish from it. He knows that in these difficult moments, we are gaining insight … serving as examples … literally inspiring others. Good emerges. In Romans 8:28, we are told, “… God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

If you take a few moments to look through the Holy Bible, you’ll note that affliction and suffering are ever present. In fact, there are at least 14 words in Hebrew and Greek that translate to “affliction”. Think about that. Suffering is part of this earthly world. It always has been. None of us are immune. Chronic illnesses, i.e. Alcoholism, Mental illness, Atrophy, Leprosy, Epilepsy, Obesity, Glaucoma/Blindness, etc., were present in biblical times. What you are experiencing isn’t new. Such afflictions have been around for centuries.

Today, thanks to modern medicine, we have options that make living with Chronic illness much easier. Even modern society has changed — becoming more accepting of those who suffer from these diseases. Yes, there are still problems to be addressed. Awareness continues to be a need. The more people understand, the better off that we become as a society. Healthier living. Preventative measures. Learning has its rewards. We cannot control human nature. There will, unfortunately, always be individuals who are bigoted, who discriminate, who bully, who judge, etc. But we can pray for them. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

If you have a Chronic illness, work towards accepting it. Stay optimistic. Take the necessary steps — changes —  to manage your health. It will provide much needed stability to your life. Learn to live each and every day to the fullest. Appreciate what you can do. Maintain a clear perspective — set a few goals. Avoid additional stress. Count your blessings. Your life has changed before. Think about it. Perhaps, it was when you went off to college? Or when you entered military service? Or marriage? This isn’t the end of the world. This is a new journey. So embrace it, as I have. It isn’t the path that I would have chosen. And you probably feel the same. But it is well with my soul.

Have a Blessed Easter.

 

Reference Links:

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/chronic-illness.aspx

http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2012/july-online-only/doesgodallowtragedy.html

http://www.jennifermartinpsych.com/yourcolorlooksgoodblog/2013/09/the-five-stages-of-grief-for-chronic.html

https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-affliction.html

https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/diseases-bible

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1070773/

*Photo by Caleb Frith on Unsplash

Should I Take Generics?

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If you manage to celebrate your 65th birthday, free of any chronic illness, by all means consider yourself lucky. More than half of America’s population is living with at least one chronic condition, i.e. Mental illness, Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, HIV, Cancer, Epilepsy, Hypertension, Addiction, etc. If you are one of those individuals, then you know how expensive and confusing it can be. Medication isn’t the sole issue, but it is a large part of the equation. And as the cost of medication continues to rise, you feel the pinch on your budget. Frustration. Worry. So, you begin to think about your options. With a chronic illness, you cannot risk doing without your medication. Though, unfortunately, some have resorted to such decisions. But you can consider alternatives. Generics offer a very viable solution.

When a company creates a Brand-name drug, a lot of research goes into its development. Once the FDA gives their approval, a 20-year patent is issued. And the drug goes on the market. When that patent expires, a Generic version can be created. Because it requires less research/development expense, a Generic costs less — usually 30-80% less!

I am not here to promote any specific company, or drug. I am here to inform. What many people do not realize is that a Generic drug is a chemically-equivalent version of a Brand-name drug. The FDA requires that Generics have the same active ingredient, dosage, safety strength, usage directions, quality and performance as the Brand-name drugs they copy. They work in the same way. And, like Brand-name drugs, they are manufactured in FDA-inspected facilities.

There are two types of Generic drugs: Generic Substitution and Therapeutic Exchange. A Generic Substitution drug is the equivalent of the Brand-name drug, on the molecular level. The Therapeutic Exchange is a little different. Think of it as comparing store-brand products with Brand-name products. It is a molecular-related substitute, but not exactly the same.

Generic drugs play a pivotal role in the management and treatment of chronic illnesses. One study estimated that the use of Brand-name drugs for the treatment of blood-pressure, in a non-diabetic patient, can cost up to $52K per year. That same patient, using Generics, spends under $8K per year. Which would you prefer to pay?

Best of all, Generics do work. I have spoken to many people, with a variety of chronic illnesses, who made the decision to switch to Generics. Like myself, they found that the Generic drug performed as well as the Brand-name drug. Health insurers and government programs also approve of their use. In many cases, pharmacies will automatically fill a prescription with the Generic version unless they are instructed to use the Brand-name drug.

All medications, Generic or Brand-name, have side-effects. There is no perfect pill, capsule, injection, etc. Finding the right medication is often a process of trial and error … searching … trying … sometimes trying again … then finding the one that works for you. And a couple of Generics, as with a few Brand-name drugs, have been disappointing. Still, the vast majority of Generics are not only safe … they are very effective!

If you are wondering about the use of Generics, talk to your doctor. Ask questions. Be candid with your concerns. He/She can give you information on the Generics that are available for treating your condition/s. You can also visit the FDA Generic Drug Program on their website. You have a choice. Perhaps, it’s time to consider making it?

 

Reference Links:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161025092655.htm

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/buying-generic-drugs-201607159982

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21734210

http://healthsmart.com/SmarterHealth/GenericVsBrandDrugs.aspx

http://www.berkeleywellness.com/self-care/article/how-good-are-generic-drugs

https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/GenericDrugs/ucm167991.htm

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