I was given important advice during my residency by my mentor Hans Einstein, the nephew of famed physicist Albert Einstein. He taught me to ignore the labels attached to patients.
Labels like Irritable Bowel, Anxiety, Stroke, Alzheimer’s, Cerebral Palsy, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Fibromyalgia or Autism were originally intended to help researchers understand a particular group of symptoms.
Having a label with defining characteristics allowed researchers in different parts of the world conduct similar research. They were able to compare apples with apples, scientifically.
Unfortunately, when these labels are moved into the non-research clinical world they may stifle an overbooked physician’s level of inquiry and investigation.
Instead of figuring out “why” a patient is having difficulty with concentration and attention they may just look for a prescription that allows someone exhibiting ADD to function through their day.
But with a few questions, the clinician might realize the patient’s uncomfortable emotions, concentration, and focus problems happen when they are sitting still but strangely their thinking completely normalizes when exercising, snacking, or fidgeting.
A few more questions will reveal the patient also has occasional headaches, neck tightness, dizziness, and anxiety when sitting for a while yet these symptoms improve when laying flat.
Collectively, these answers indicate the ADD patient is having difficulty regulating oxygen delivery to the brain. The poor oxygen delivery is the “why”.
Without understanding that low cerebral blood pressure improves with exercise or with lying flat, physicians don’t work towards fixing the mechanical problems in the brain of the patient beyond writing another prescription. Common blood pressure medications, for example, can make the oxygen delivery problem worse by making the blood pressure too low.
If you go one more step your next question then becomes why is the person having poor oxygen delivery at all? The answer is often found in the Autonomic Nervous System, the main communications network between the brain and the body.
The brain uses the Autonomic nerves to talk, listen, and control organ function like the heart and lungs. The Autonomics also control operating systems such as the digestive system, blood pressure regulation system, hormone production, and the immune system.
When the two branches of the Autonomics fail to work properly, the bodies’ response to disease and stress are impaired. The brain develops problems that include regulating blood pressure and brain oxygen delivery, moving the digestive tract, maintaining normal heart rhythm, and proper organ function.
Because these are the main systems that are disrupted the common symptoms of Autonomic dysfunction include heartburn, intestinal distress (cramping, bloating, constipation, frequent urination), frequent or recurrent headaches, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain.
Other common symptoms are dizziness or feeling lightheaded, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, depression/anxiety/panic-attacks, and memory or attention problems. People also have numbness or tingling in their hands and feet that range from a mild nuisance to something so painful they can barely walk or hold items in their hands.
Pushing beyond the label and looking for the underlying problem is where the healing may begin.
But as more people experience varieties of these Autonomic symptoms or other forms of metabolic inflammation, new disease names or syndrome names like POTS, Adrenal Fatigue, and Leaky Gut are invented. Today’s disease labels merely describe a collective shift or trend in the general populations declining health.
Don’t fall in love with your disease label or blame it for everything, and don’t let your providers stop thinking once they hear your diagnosis. Labels prevent patients and physicians from considering alternative reasons for a given set of symptoms.
If you believe that nothing else can be done, you will do nothing else, and nothing improves.
For example a child with cerebral palsy may have abdominal pain and anxiety in addition to difficulty of walking and talking. All of it is lumped together as “cerebral palsy” which is considered irreversible. These problems might be from a combination of intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and developmental delay.
Just like otherwise healthy children with abdominal cramping, anxiety, and/or difficulty with walking and talking, these symptoms are often treatable by supplementing with a pre-biotic fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Demanding an answer for the fundamental underlying cause of your symptoms is the key to discovering the method to actually treat and possibly reverse their cause.
Remember that disease labels are just words someone made up to lump together different people who experience the same set of abnormal symptoms, so always search to understand why the symptoms occur. If you believe that something else can always be done to improve your health, something else usually will.
I am an internal medicine physician and my private office is located in the greater Phoenix area. My research background has been focused on the Autonomic Nervous System, brain metabolism, and metabolic inflammation. I now use this training and experience to look beyond every label to reverse disease.
For more information you may call my office at 623-208-4226 or learn from my website www.DrBuckeye.com.
© 2015. Dr. Patrick Nemechek and Jean R. Nemechek. All Rights Reserved