Sunday, March 31, 2013

[First Respondent] Will We Ever Truly Understand Diseases?

This week's reading put many things into perspective for me. Ewald's view on chronic diseases highlights how human are approaching health care, specifically how health professions mainly cure the results of a disease, not the primal cause. An example that was given involved smoking and heart disease. Smoking does not cause chronic heart disease, but it is very likely that smoking allows the body to be more vulnerable to pathogens that increase the possibility of it. Smoking is linked to a huge array of health related problems and highly addictive, but doctors cannot force someone to stop smoking, which means they cannot cure one of the primal causes for many complications. Ewald demonstrates that unless the ultimate cause of the disease is addressed and cured, treating the symptoms will only go so far. The patient is more likely to go into remission and the disease will be more deadly than before.
I took the lesson that humanity is looking in the wrong direction to address issues. Too often we try to cure the surface problems and rarely delve deeper to try to attack the root of many chronic conditions. Simple lifestyle choices such as smoking or eating correctly really can affect many different facets of a person's health. Many people do very harmful things to their body because they don't see a direct effect; they don't realize that their actions often set off a chain reaction that affects a huge list of things. The fact that many actions don't have a direct affect also causes it's own problems however. Since many actions cause indirect affects, the question can be validly raised if we'll ever truly understand a disease because of the confounding factors that are involved.
Overall, I think this week's reading raised many questions that I had not previously thought of and challenged my views on modern medicine's take upon curing diseases.


  1. Bela makes an excellent point when she says that we adress the wrong issues when looking at an illness. However, I don't think that this is something that will change any time soon. We had mentioned earlier in the semester that a Western idea of medicine often only treats the symptoms and not the illness. I have been to the doctor for multiple headaches and was immedieately written a script for pain mediciation when the actual problem was stress and axiety. Bela is correct in saying that living an overall healthier lifestyle and eliminating habits like smoking and reducing stress would inprove many of the symptoms that we are treated for.
    This is a very "western" form of medicine and it relates to our previous lesson on child birth as well. The process of a home birth treats the whole person during the brithing process. It is described as a spiritual experience. Conversly, hospital births treat only the immideate symptom of being preganant by trying to get the baby out as soon as possible.

    These easy fix method will not be changed soon because we live in a fast pace world where no one has time to be sick or take care of themselves. A sad truth.

  2. The more I learn about healthcare in today’s society, the more I have come to realize the shortcuts that are taken in order to mask a problem rather than get to the root of it. To me, it seems obvious why for both ends of the spectrum. It’s easy for physicians to prescribe a pill and it’s easy for patients to take the pill. Because god forbid that a patient must change their behaviors for the sake of their health! Or that physicians should more closely examine their patients as individuals, individuals that require specialized health treatments because not everyone is the same! What an absurd idea.

    I don’t agree that this is merely a “western” way of medicine but the ways humans have evolved to behave. Individuals are dealing with chronic diseases all over the world and the increase is not just spread through western nations. In my opinion, it is the advancement of technology and pharmaceuticals that trigger the idea that we can simply “undo” all our wrongs with drugs and alternative procedures. We thrive in a generation where knowledge can harm or hurt us. The consequences of “shortcut” methods may appear effective and efficient for combating diseases in the short term, but can quickly build on top of each other to produce more harmful long-term effects. When human intellect is guiding us one way, how do we reconcile that with the possible health and behavior repercussions that emerge from it?