Symptoms are not disease

Would you ever pull the fuse for the check engine light in your car? Seems like a bad idea, right? And yet people are doing that all the time throughout the country. They aren’t doing it to their cars, but they are doing it to their bodies.

Why are we doing that? And why does that seem OK?

Think about it. Every time you take an ibuprofen for a headache, or cough syrup for cold symptoms, you are limiting your body’s ability to create that symptom. What other symptoms are you doing that to?

  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Tired
  • Fatigued
  • Anxious

On the surface, it makes sense. We all want to feel better, and symptoms are uncomfortable, at best. No one likes a runny nose, or sinus pressure. But what if you are doing yourself a disservice by killing symptoms?

What if limiting your symptoms can actually create more problems?

Let’s examine a couple of symptoms. Fever is a classic example, especially with kids, because we have been taught that fever can be dangerous. The truth is, fever isn’t dangerous until over 104 degrees. Fever serves a very important function in the body. It limits the ability of viruses to move and copy themselves, it slows bacteria, and sometimes outright kills them.

So why kill a fever? Most are not dangerous in the slightest.

Pain is another great example. We have all had pain. But here’s the thing, pain isn’t a problem. It sure feels like it, but it’s not the problem. It’s an indicator that there is a problem. So when you take a pain reliever to stop pain, you have just pulled the fuse on your check engine light. You have limited your body’s ability to communicate with you and help you make better choices.

Why is this important?

Consider that sometimes, symptoms are exactly what you need to be healthy, and that the symptom is the perfect response that your body can have. Consider that it’s actually healthier to have the symptom than to not have it.

When you understand that your symptoms are messages, and not just inconvenient feelings, you treat yourself differently. You nurture the fever and the inflammation. You help yourself cough and expel the dead viruses from your body. You use pain to inform your movement, doing less in your life, and giving you the time you need to heal.

What symptoms are you working with? Are you just suppressing them with medications? Are you pulling the fuse on your check engine light?

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