“I have so many little symptoms that are really bugging me, but everyone says I’m fine”. “Well, yes, I have a little headache, but what really bothers me is ___”. “I didn’t know that these symptoms were related to ___”. We have become so isolated in our approach to symptom diagnosis, that we forget that even little symptoms mean something, and that clumped together create a picture of underlying issues. Like a picture puzzle, symptoms are the puzzle pieces, and our job as health care practitioners is to put the pieces together to create a picture. The more pieces we have – big or seemingly small – the more complete the picture.
In this world of managed care, doctors are increasingly asking when walking into an exam room, “what is the one complaint we need to discuss today?” Not really their fault, but mandated by insurance billing procedures or patient management software programs, it doesn’t matter how many symptoms are cropping up, only one matters this visit. You have to schedule another appointment for another health complaint. Furthered by specialists – cardiologists, urologists, gastroenterologists, etc., specialty medicine is isolating even more. Now, we have specialists within each of those categories as well – such as nephrologist (looking only at kidneys or the nephron of kidneys), acquired heart diseases vs. congenital heart disease, interventional cardiology, cardiac electrophysiology, etc.
As we narrow our focus more on the minute aspects of disease, we lose the picture – and it’s the picture that matters most. Because diseases appear to be more complicated, necessitating educational focus and experience, this trend is understandable. But is it best?
Physicians that are considered “holistic” (treating by natural means), and “wholistic” (treating the whole body), find that isolating symptoms results in isolated treatment approaches, which equates to simply symptom control/chasing symptoms. When something goes awry in the body, it responds by “telling us” in different ways. On the surface, many symptoms seem to have no correlation to each other. For example, cataracts, arthritis, osteoporosis, kidney and gallstones all are seemingly unrelated, but they all have a common denominator – calcium metabolism issues. Fix the underlying issue and you fix them all!
In the above example, if a person had all of those, they would see an ophthalmologist, a rheumatologist, an internist or physiatrist, a urologist and a gastroenterologist, respectively. That’s a lot of specialists to see! But what if you could see just one, and they looked at every symptom collectively to discover the underlying issue, then treated that, rather than each individual symptom?
Well, you can! When people come into our office, the comment we hear the most is “Wow! I didn’t think I had so many symptoms! I don’t think I ever looked at them all together!” Some feel like hypochondriacs, but we know that even the so-called “minor” symptoms mean something. The body doesn’t do something outside of normal unless there is a reason. The “minor” symptoms are just as valuable, just as key, as the ones that bring you to the doctor in the first place. When the puzzle pieces are all fit together, a picture emerges – and we love treating the picture!
©2016 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.