By Emory Liscord MD
Most of are familiar with the “stomach ache”
An occasional reality of childhood.
A little viral illness. Too much candy.
Nothing a little chicken broth can’t cure. Right?
That’s what I thought too … until I started working as an emergency physician.
The relatively benign “stomach ache” has taken over the health of a significant proportion of the population. No Joke.
For many, digestive issues can be debilitating at times.
Many people have seen their PCP, been to multiple ERs with only negative CAT scans to show for it. Many have seen a GI specialist, and maybe even been opened up by a surgeon.
Desperate, patients end up in front of me.
One young women I saw recently had this exact story. By the time she ended up in my ER she still had healing scars from her explorative laparotomy for “undifferentiated abdominal pain”.
So I asked one simple question. What do you eat?
“Mostly I just drink milk. I really like it”
“How much milk do you drink” I ask
“I drink about a ½ a gallon a day”
Palm to forehead.
Really? Someone cut this woman open and never asked what she ate?
So, now, this is a conversation I regularly have with my patients
MD stands for “Medical Doctor”. By definition, we go to medical school to learn to prescribe medications. Period.
You want a pill? You want surgery? We are your people.
But if we can’t define your problem, then we should exercise caution if attempting to treat it.
I start all my patient encounters off with this script
“My job is to rule out all the life threatening things that might be wrong with you today but at the end of your work up, I may not have the answer.”
Medicine is not a perfect science
There is not a magic pill for stomach pain
If we are giving you a pill, we most likely are not treating the underlying problem.
Believe me, you don’t want a pill. ALL MEDICATIONS HAVE SIDE EFFECTS and risks
The more medications you are on, the more you usually end up requiring
Chronic abdominal pain is usually due to something in the environment and no matter what any doctor, naturopath or your family member tells you, there is likely not a “test for that”.
The science is just not there.
Individual genetics + individual environmental = imperfect science
Do you struggle with abdominal pain regularly? Once you have life threatening pathology ruled out by your MD (or me) …
Do a N=1 experiment.
Keep a food / lifestyle journal.
Dairy gives you a stomach ache? Don’t eat it. Its not rocket science.
You don’t need an MD or naturopath to tell you what you intuitively already know.
Children do this inherently. Animals do this inherently.
Adults, however, seem to need someone else to tell them what makes them feel sick.
Does anyone else think this is odd?
Listen to your body. It’s cheaper and more reliable.
Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. You have the power