All About Health
All About Health
All About Health
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All About Health

One does not have to be a philosopher to discover that illness is subjective: it is the experience of the person who is ill. Eventually, the patient reports what he (or she) perceives about the illness. This perception is largely based on the person's mental image of what's happening within the body. The doctor's job is to separate these perceptions from the physical experience of the patient- the symptom{s} he reports.

To offer comfort, to alleviate pain, to protect and cherish make up the basic tenets of human love, and are the essentials of family life. Every physician knows this instinctive response often make the difference between illness and health.

Most physicians, at some point, will make the error of taking this instinctive response for granted. Like all home-grown virtues, it is somewhat undervalued.

The simpler ways of providing comfort are often forgotten. Instead, one pops a pill.

It isn't rare to find a child with high fever huddling restlessly in a hot bright room with the TV blaring and adults talking across him. He has been given his paracetamol and is expected now to sleep. He has refused his dinner, even his favourite dish. His temperature will be checked an hour from now when this tde-serial gets over and he will be given another dose of paracetamol. His mother, due to work at 8 a.m. and already feeling the warning signs of headache and muscle pain, will probably breakfast on a cocktail of anti-histaminics and anti-inflammatories and then work her way through an entire strip of throat pastilles before her lunch break.

Meanwhile, an important exam cannot be avoided, and the sick boy is marched into school by his father who has begun the day with a migraine and is into his fifth pain-killer by lunch. Forty-eight hours later, check out the medication this family has consumed: four different brands of paracetamol, 3 different NSAIDs, six strips of throat pastilles, two tubes of pain balm, three different kinds of cough syrup, two brands of anti-histaminics, and anti-emetics. Also, perhaps, some herbal, ayurvedic, or homeopathic preparations.

Try asking if the doctor recommended all these, and you will be told: Why consult the doctor for a simple fever? Besides, those medicines are too strong. Too many side-effects. The argument is insurmountable. The doctor has become a superfluity.

Discomfort is the most primitive of all experiences. Even the simplest life-form responds to pain. Yet, discomfort is bewildering in its variety. The way it is perceived is intensely personal. Unlike pleasure, it cannot be shared. All of us have to cope with this confusing experience in varying degrees, day after day, throughout our lives. To make things worse, we also have to use our wits to help those who love and depend on us to cope with their It discomforts. addresses discomfort at a very basic level. It helps you look at the experience, and because the easiest way of communication is through language, it helps you find words to understand and explain it to your family: And, to your doctor. One thinks of the body as a sealed unit (except for the necessary inlets and outlets) and, as long as everything working smoothly, we scarcely bother about what goes on beneath the skin. But with the first twinge of pain or discomfort comes a rush of anxiety. There are so many organs and all of them seem to be in active rebellion. Panic is helped along by anecdotes from well-meaning neighbours and relations who always have the worst hospital disasters to relate.

Yes, we all know one must eventually see the doctor, but what can one do immediately? This is, perhaps, the most worrying question of all, and one which continues to nag long after the crisis is past: was there anything else could have done? Suggestions stop at the point where unskilled observation is no longer enough. Beyond that point, the doctor MUST take over.



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