The lack of education amongst patients is the number one health killer in the world!
Yes, let that sink in.
The lack of valuable knowledge concerning their bodies and general medicine is killing more people than cigarette smoke and AIDS combined. Are there malleable numbers to support this, perhaps; the amazing thing is they aren’t necessary. Discussions and interviews with a number of highly educated physicians and scholars in the medical field provided more than enough data to arrive at this conclusion.
This theory is based on the notion that most people don’t have a working concept of how their bodies work. Many people do not understand how toxins disseminated throughout their bodies will eventually lead to minor annoying problems which often lead to larger chronic and potentially deadly diseases. For example, cigarette smoke eventually leads to emphysema which can and will evolve into COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) that can and will contribute, in one way or another, to premature death. As an addendum, one must remember to account for the myriad of cancers which smoking has been proven to increase risk of procuring. The general population thinks that if they smoke, they will eventually (after a long healthy life) get cancer. This train of thought is short-sided and dangerous as it ignores the litany of respiratory problems that don’t kill you right away including the bouts of pneumonia caused by your decreased respiratory capacity. However many continue to smoke right through any “small setbacks”, as long as they don’t have the big C, Cancer. What people do not realize is that you may never make it to see cancer if you die of pneumonia and respiratory complications. These complications are how and why most people die of a chronic disease. Complications seem to be the perfect adjective for the definition of chronic diseases; the depths and various methods by which these diseases can kill you are just that, complicated so much so that they often beguile their victims.
Diabetes for example, is a known chronic disease that over 20 million Americans currently live with. Most people do not die of diabetes, but they can and will die of complications due to diabetes. The initial treatment for diabetes (Type 2, the most common type) is diet and exercise. Yes, amazingly all those ‘complications’ can be avoided by simple diet and exercise. It’s not a secret but patients seem to have difficulties believing it can be that easy. Some of the common diabetic responses and beliefs of diabetics are “I’m not that fat, my diabetic index isn’t that high, I feel fine, so what’s the point of the diet?” Here in lies the issue, people feel there is no need to live a disciplined life and ignorance leads these same people to think that since they need to feel ill effects to determine that a disease is doing its damage. By the time the damage is felt, it’ll be too late and in worst cases, any small cut on an extremity may cause the loss of a limb. Many medical students have testified to their experiences with amputating diabetic limbs and every time the patient was surprised that it came to this and begged for another course of action. Unfortunately, the only other course was death by sepsis (systemic infection). These little problems can usually be controlled; in fact, most in the medical field agree that prevention not treatment/control is the best protection from disease. A major problem with prevention, however, is that it is chiefly facilitated by the educated and privileged.
The multi-factorialness of many chronic diseases tells us it’s a myriad of things that can cause an illness. Yet if you look closely, it also means that there are multiple ways to prevent disease. It doesn’t take much enlightenment to understand the importance of exercise to one’s health, but somehow so many seem to take this as myth. It’s as if health awareness and promotion are just a conspiracy of gyms trying to increase business and Nike trying to peddle more sneakers. Take cervical cancer for instance: early age at first sexual intercourse, multiple sex partners, unprotected sex, and lack of pap-smears all increase risk. Armed with this information; young women should be able to make minor changes to their lifestyle to reduce risk of acquiring cancer.
After cancer, uncontrolled diabetes with complications, COPD from smoking, congestive heart failure from long standing hypertension (the list goes on-and-on), it’s too late to play dumb; now it’s time to survive. The problem is, if being medically dense can drive a person to this level, the odds of regaining control are not in one’s favor. Items such as pride come into play; patients sometimes think it’s not as serious as the doctors say it is. Being medically dense allows for the thought that there is a place for pride in health care; there is only room for confidence and intelligence when coming to terms with a disease in order to beat it. Some wait until after their disease gets bad, then think it is time to trust the doctors (despite not heeding all previous warnings to prevent exacerbation of said condition, such as not following the medication treatment regimen) and expect them to perform a minor to major miracles. It’s safe to say that doctors always try to save lives and treat, but if a person doesn’t love themselves enough to take care of their body, can we truly expect doctors to mimic or teach that love for oneself?
Under-educated people don’t tend to believe in the severity of disease until it’s too late, and don’t think they can die until they’re on their deathbed. It just doesn’t seem plausible to him or her that without major symptoms, someone is actually sick. They tend not to research their own disabilities and just trust their doctors’ word. They loosely follow their treatment regimen, and they chiefly understate the severity of their condition to loved ones but mostly to themselves. Maybe it’s all a huge generalization; maybe there is an element of unfairness to other issues that might play a part in this health debate. What is not a generalization or semantics is that under-educated people die everyday from diseases or illnesses that have no business killing them so prematurely, if at all.