March 6

A Wheeze By Any Other Name…

Does that wheeze mean that you have asthma? Do you need medication for it?

Overuse of medications is a big problem. Many times, patients are put on a medication and told they are going to be on it for life, discounting the possibility that something other than pharmaceutical intervention may actually help the condition. We see it in our office all the time, but patients are also making changes to their lifestyles and reversing diabetes and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

Other times medications may be given when symptoms of a condition exist, but the particular condition has not been truly diagnosed. Patients have been given diabetes medication to facilitate weight loss when their blood sugar values do not support a diagnosis of diabetes. And how many times are people given antibiotics when dealing with a viral infection? Such are the situations that align with a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed many adults that were diagnosed with asthma (and taking medications) did not actually have the condition.

What Does the Research Say?

Researchers in Canada tested 700 adults who had been diagnosed with asthma within the past 5 years. They analyzed their medical records and then did evaluation for asthma using spirometry, measuring how well a patient can inhale and exhale. What they found was that one third of the patients didn’t actually have asthma based on the results of the test! And in that group, 80% were taking asthma medication, and 35% of those were taking it daily!

Now granted, in some cases it couldn’t be determined if a patient had been properly diagnosed in the first place and the condition had improved, or if that they were just misdiagnosed from the beginning. The problem was that nearly half had not had the spirometry testing performed and were only diagnosed based on symptoms and the physician’s evaluation.

Prolonged use of medications without follow-up testing or evaluation does not give the patient the opportunity, if they are making improvements in diet or physical activity level, to assess whether their bodies are getting healthier or not. For example, when our patients are going through a detox and they are feeling better and their digestive tracts are healing properly, the need for reflux medications like Prilosec or Nexium can typically be eliminated by monitoring response when the medications are decreased and looking at lab values that assess digestive function.

On a good note from the study though, of the patients who ruled out of the asthma diagnosis based on the testing, over 90 percent were able to stop their medications for one year with no problems. While it wasn’t noted what may have accounted for the change, it still does show that prolonged use of medications may not always be necessary.

In some cases, it still may be, such as insulin for Type 1 diabetics or thyroid hormone for someone who has had the thyroid removed or when blood pressure is way out of control. But if you are doing as much as you can to help the body reverse a particular condition, it at least gives you the possibility to not have to be tied to a medication for the rest of your life.

A doctor who will work with you on improving your health and monitoring your progress for changes along the way should be included as part of your personal healthcare team. If we can offer any help in this regards or you would even like a second opinion on what may be possible as far as improving your health through natural means, we urge you to call our office for a free consultation to see what may be possible for you.



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