- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Why we should eliminate the cause of illness and not just treat the symptom
One of my biggest fears regarding any kind of medical treatment is that in general, people try to treat the wrong thing. They go to the doctors or they look online to find natural cures for their ailments and the first thing they do is type in a list of their symptoms. This is obviously a wise thing to do when it comes to diagnosing certain allergies or conditions but what do we do with the information we find regarding our symptoms? Could there be a danger that we might actually be harming ourselves by treating the symptoms of a condition rather than getting to the root cause of an ailment and then focussing on eliminating that cause? What kind of things might I be talking about?
Before I begin here I should just state that I am only voicing personal thoughts on this matter. After a recent health issue arose with my wife, I felt the need to voice these thoughts just in case they are of any interest or help to others.
Developing Hay Fever like symptoms
Just recently my wife started – quite out of the blue – to develop symptoms of what we assumed may be hay fever as it is around the time of year when hay fever may present itself. Her symptoms were that of a post-nasal drip, constant cough, headaches and more. After putting up with it for a few weeks she decided to go to the doctors where she was diagnosed with post nasal drip and prescribed anti-histamine medicine to try to remedy the issue.
Medicines that only treat the symptom
To be honest I wasn’t all that happy about this because I’m a firm believer that if your body is producing too much histamine then it is usually doing it for a reason. Anyway as I’d feared, after taking the antihistamines for a few days my wife was actually starting to feel worse and not better. She was thinking about heading back to the doctors, perhaps to be prescribed a different pill or something else along those lines. Personally I found it really odd that these symptoms had shown up so severely and almost overnight when she has never really struggled with these kinds of symptoms before. So I asked her to sit down with me for a few minutes and really think about whether anything had changed recently, either in her daily routine or in her diet.
Getting to the route of the problem
After just a little while talking we realised that my wife had introduced a new herbal tea into her daily routine which contained rooibos. For most people, rooibos probably wouldn’t cause any health issues and it is actually considered to promote good health. When we looked into the possible side effects of rooibos tea however we quickly discovered a possible side effect that could well be linked to my wife’s symptoms. We realised that rooibos tea contains high levels of tannins, which you will also find in red wine and green tea. So what’s the problem with tannins I hear you ask? Well for most people there probably isn’t a problem. If you are prone to anaemia or other conditions linked to poor absorption of iron however, then tannins can be your worst enemy and it just so happens that my wife is prone to having a low iron count. So why are tannins bad for those who suffer with iron deficiency? It’s because tannins have been shown to further interfere with the absorption of iron which creates the perfect storm for those who suffer with iron-related conditions.
Eliminating the cause
The thing I’m trying to get across here is to not become too obsessed with treating symptoms. Instead, look for the cause of the problem and do your best to eliminate that cause. My wife has now eliminated the offending herbal tea and after just a few days of being roobois free she is now back to good health. Had she not taken the time to eliminate the cause however then she may well have spent months or even longer going back and forth to the doctors, trying out pill after pill with no positive results, while at the same time continuing to drink the herbal tea in question and doing who knows what damage to her system as a result.
Listen to your body’s natural defences
If you find that you are suffering with allergy like symptoms then, be sure to give some thought to what might be causing those symptoms rather than becoming obsessed with curing the symptoms themselves. If your body is showing allergy like symptoms then it is usually because it is trying to prevent an invader from entering your system and damaging it. Sometimes your body may mistake something that is potentially harmless for a harmful invader, causing it to unnecessarily activate its defence mechanisms – restricting airways, creating phlegm and the like. In this case treating the symptom might help as you may be able to prevent your body from needlessly overreacting to the thing it is mistaking for an invader. Other times however, your body might be going into defence mode because there is a real problem and your immune system is doing all that it can to defend your cells from even more damage. In these cases ‘switching off’ those defences through the use of anti-histamine tablets could possibly be the worst thing you could do as you might leave your body powerless to defend against a genuine invader. Instead it would be much better to find out exactly what is causing the problem and then do all you can to eliminate that cause.
Have you ever cured an ailment by eliminating the cause, rather than just treating the symptom?