What do you think are some of the realistic solutions to the causes of today's most common health crises?
To me, the crises that occur in our health care system are not the diseases themselves, but things that affect the access to health care.
Medicare is running out of money. Millions are uninsured or under-insured. In the current down economy these problems are magnified.
I feel that the major problem is the demand by patients for unnecessary and expensive tests and procedures, and the refusal of health care professionals to appropriately ration medical care. We simply can't afford to give an MRI for a sore toe. Also, there is a huge problem in the U.S. with end-of-life care. Typically, an elderly person ends up spending the last few weeks of their life in an acute care facility, running up a bill of hundreds of thousands of dollars...and to what benefit to the patient or society? We end up consuming precious medical resources in order to postpone for a day or a week the inevitable.
Until the government or HMO's get control of overutilization, our crises will continue.
For me, the way to tackle some of the health problems in our society is to get educated about them; how they start, how they spread, and what drugs are appropriate to combat them.
I have had little luck with doctor diagnosis. Doctors have an average of 14 minutes to spend with a patient to figure out what's wrong. In that amount of time, physicians can only give an educated guess as to how to treat the problem...often prescribing antibiotics at the drop of a hat so our bodies get resistant to them and they are not effective next time.
My daughter is a pharmacist, and it angers her when docs prescribe drugs like Z pacs and augmentin when they aren't sure what is wrong. She is convinced that this pervasive practice is setting us up for a superbug that will be untreatable.
So, what I do now is research my illness and go in armed with information to the doctor's office so that my doctor can use his limited time with me to narrow down my illness to a few possible ones...so they can be properly treated.
I agree with those who are advocating a healthy lifestyle, and I think the big thing that can help make that happen is education. There are many small steps that can pay off in a big way, but people have to know about them to implement them. For example, the best way to stop the spread of trachoma, an eye infection that is a major cause of blindness in the third world, is regular washing of the face and hands. Once people know how important it is, it's not difficult at all to do; the trick is in getting the information to the people at risk.
Here in the US, targeted health education campaigns have done a good job with certain diseases; encouraging early detection of breast cancer is a good example. But the same people who do things to avoid cancer do not know that they are much more likely to die of heart disease, and they do not act to guard their cardiac health. Most medical schools still do not require physicians in training to study nutrition at all - not even a single introductory class is required! Yet, what we eat is such a fundamental factor in whether or not we stay healthy. "Health class" should be incorporated into every child's education every day of their school career.
I really agree with the idea that proper eating and a healthy lifestyle are the only real ways to alleviate our health problems. Sure, less of a reliance on antibiotics would be good. Sure, some healthy foods are more expensive. But the fact remains that eating right, exercising, etc are the best ways to reduce the health problems that are most prevalent in the US.
I also think our reliance on antibiotics to tackle simple conditions rather than more holistic means has encouraged more resistant pathogens to develop.
We appear to have become super obsessed in first-world countries with antibacterial cleansing and as a result have encouraged super-bugs to generate. We seem to have forgotten that we have some natural immunities which can be supported with healthy living, and instead resort to scare tactics and over sanitisation.
I agree with litteacher8 in that healthy eating is so expensive. I too am trying to lose weight, but it costs so much to eat healthy. Fresh vegetables are worth it, but for those on a fixed income, as many people are, healthy diet foods cost too much. Lowering the cost for healthy food choices would definitely help. Of course healthy eating would save in medical bills. Healthy eating might equal lower medical bills. Either way, healthy eating is key to less health issues.
I agree that there is much preventable disease in the world. But I don't know that everyone is going to get on board just because that is true. I know that there are some behavioral programs here and there, with employers using carrots and sticks to motivate employees into doing the right thing and reducing the employers' health care costs. Medicare could do the same, and sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn't. Until someone figures out a simple way to satisfy those receptors in our brains that get satisfied when we eat, drink, smoke, and use illegal substances, this is going to be an uphill battle. I have lost many pounds myself in the past year, and I feel wonderful. Now it's time to tackle the smoking. But that does not mean that the accumulation of years in which I should have done these will not result in harm to my health. I think the bottom line is that people do not always act rationally, and we need to find a way to solve the problem that acknowledges this.
Since you don't limit the scope of your question to only the US or one country, think of some very simple solutions for the serious health crises in the developing world, especially Africa. Making HIV drugs more available to Africa, we could prolong the life of millions who are HIV positive there. Widespread education and aid programs on how to prevent contracting the virus could realistically help reduce the number of infections.
Malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people per year, primarily children, and as one non-profit recently discovered, you can greatly cut down on the spread of the virus by simply providing nets for people to sleep under at night. For $10, a donor can provide a net in an African nation.
There are a number of simple, common sense solutions like these to some of the greatest health crises we are facing as humans.
I agree with herappleness in the above post concerning living a healthy lifestyle. I have been overweight for much of my life, but I have lost more than 100 pounds from my top weight, and I feel great. I avoid gluttonous feeding, eat a light lunch and light dinner, and rarely drink alcoholic beverages. My next step is eliminating my cigar smoking. Everyone should get at least one hour per day of some form of exercise, which I also try to follow. Needless to say, regular medical checkups are also advantageous.
There are several realistic and cost-effective solutions to the causes of today's most common health crises.
Here are the most common health causes as published by the Centers for Disease control. These are also the leading causes of death:Heart disease: 616,067 Cancer: 562,875 Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 135,952 Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 127,924 Accidents (unintentional injuries): 123,706
Now, let's see what causes heart disease aside from genetic inheritance: Being overweight, consumption of alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise, over consumption of fatty products, and exposure to chemicals, and stressful life conditions.
How is it NOT a realistic solution to eat normally and a bit healthier, control the consumption of tobacco and alcohol, leading a life that is qualitative instead of quantitative, and prevent exposure to foreign substances that may pollute our bodies?
With the exception of cancer and some forms of strokes, the rest of the deadliest diseases are simple to control if only we learn to live reasonably and without pushing ourselves to expect things that do not go with the reality of our lives. Therefore, we could save our government a lot of health care money if only we make the choice of having some common sense.