I don’t visit doctors frequently, mostly because I have been quite healthy. I’m fortunate in this regard, and grateful. But, a number of years ago, I scheduled a visit with the family doctor because of some sinus trouble I was having. I was frustrated with not being able to breathe clearly and wanted some help figuring out what was wrong and getting it fixed.
For most of my life, my breathing has been hindered because of nasal congestion. I’m sure this isn’t the medically correct way to describe it, but I’ll spare you any more details. Suffice it to say, I was not breathing at 100%, and was hoping the doctor could fix that.
After finishing his exam the doctor said something like this: “Well, I’m not sure what is causing this, but let’s try some nasal sprays to help alleviate the symptoms.” I remember thinking as I was leaving that I’m willing to try but am not optimistic this will work. This wasn’t a new allergy symptom I was experiencing; it had been with me for a while. (Why it took me so long to address this is a topic for another article.)
Sure enough, treating the symptom this way was not successful. Besides, it was more unpleasant than the problem. Disappointed with the modern medicine approach, I resigned myself to the status quo and let it go. Until, that is, I came across an alternative approach that captured my attention.
I was looking through a book my mom gave me, one which she relies on to treat numerous aches and pains, when I came across something that surprised me. I was reading the section on neck and shoulder pain and found a possible cure for my sinus problem. That possibility was enough for me to give it a try.
After only a few weeks, I noticed significant improvements. I had finally found the cause and was able to treat it. And years later, it is still working.
So why do I share this story with you? Because I am convinced that we generally prefer to treat the symptom rather than the cause. I don’t mean to impugn modern medicine here. We have an incredible medical system in this country. But in some ways, I think medicine is following our cultural trends for a quick fix—give me something that is quick and easy, and doesn’t require too much change.
I’ve written before on change. Because of how hard it can be, it is often more appealing to treat the symptom rather than cause. The application here is well beyond the health of our bodies. Whether it is financial health, or emotional health, spiritual health, even career health, it is the symptoms that are at first noticeable. But without deeper reflection, and sometimes outside help, the underlying cause may not surface.
Herein lies the choice that must be made. When faced with a symptom, what do you do? There are really three options. Do nothing. Attempt to make the symptom go away. Or get to the root of the symptom and address the cause. The best choice is seldom the easy one.
So next time you realize something isn’t quite right or you are experiencing an unpleasant symptom, I challenge you to choose option three. Spend some time in self-reflection to diagnose the cause, seek some help if needed, and then choose to do something about it. Treating the cause is a much better way to treat the symptoms and be healthy.
If you’re interested in the book I referred to earlier, it is Pain Free by Pete Egoscue. Maybe it will help you as much as it has helped me.