If I were to ask you to define and quantify wellness, what key elements would come to mind? Is it as simple as not getting sick or staying out of pain? Or does it say something about the quality of the lives we lead? Living a wellness based life in our state of New Jersey and the rest of the world is not so much about living without pain as it is about your intent to care for yourself both mentally and physically.
To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs).
I often times hear from our Red Bank patients this statement: “I feel O.K. so long as I am taking the Advil.” This person is not in pain, but certainly is not well. Pain is a signal. It is your body’s way of telling your brain that something is wrong. It is important to understand that this medication reduces the inflammation and thereby reduces the pain. It is more important to understand that the underlying cause of this pain may not be addressed. If you don’t feel what is wrong, or worse; if you override your pain signals, you may be setting your body up for a mental or physical breakdown that manifests as illness or disease.
Even at nontoxic levels, NSAIDs such as Advil and Tylenol damage tissue in the gastrointestinal tract, inhibit the function of platelets, and alter kidney function. At Least 16,500 Deaths Are Caused by NSAIDs each year making them the 15th most common cause of death in the U.S.
- “This figure is similar to the number of deaths from AIDS and considerably greater than the number of deaths from multiple myeloma, asthma, cervical cancer, or Hodgkin’s disease.” 1
The idea of wellness has become a common focus for most as we travel through our busy lives trying to meet our personal and professional goals. The age of knowledge in which we all now exist provides us with unlimited resources right at our fingertips. Ask questions and be prepared to challenge the answers.
1. National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain. NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, 1999. 340:1888-1899.