Thursday, March 08, 2007

Out of the Mouths Of Babes...

...or in this case, comedians.

Dennis Miller and George Carlin were on last night, and they both touched on something that got me to thinking.

Miller talked about these allergy drugs we have. He mentioned some of the side-effects of one of the more popular ones: bleeding, migraine, heart attack and stroke. "Damn," he said, "just gimme a Kleenex, will ya?"

And Carlin talked about our "sanitized" culture, making fun of how we're always spraying, wiping, boiling. He referred to his childhood, swimming in the rivers around NY City, how kids then didn't wash their hands 48 times a day. He said it helped build a rock-solid immune system in his body, and that he hadn't been sick in years.

Of course, it was all comedy, but sometimes comedy is funny because it's true. And sometimes "funny" makes you think.

I'm not as old as Carlin, but still, I wasn't a kid that long ago. I have 3 of my own now, and it seems like every kid they go to school with has asthma, or monstrous food allergies. I don't think I knew what asthma was until 8th grade. And I'm sure there were few, if any, kids in my school who were allergic to peanut butter. Where I grew up, parents had to beg kids to occasionally eat something other than PB&J sandwiches.

We've outsmarted Mother Nature a few times, polio, smallpox, plague, but it seems like we've only moved the battlefields. In this day and age, we're manic about sterilization, but it seems as though once a week, some food-borne illness knocks hundreds of people to the sidelines.

And Miller made a good point too. We're messing with our bodies. We swallow tons of pills that are capable of causing things 10 times worse than the ailment we set out to treat. We've definitely become a drug-culture of sorts. We can treat just about anything with a pill or two, and we're seemingly very comfortable with it all. "Meds" anyone? A cute nickname usually only gets tagged onto something we're ok with, no?

All these drugs make me nervous. We have depression medicines that carry the warning that some might experience increased propensity toward suicide. We pump kids full of drugs intended to control ADHD, ADD, and things like that, but have we fallen into a trap of, in some cases mind you, substituting chemical controls for parental control? I mean, even the anti-reflux drugs can cause problems, because we need stomach acids to absorb Vitamin B.

And while there was a lot of silliness associated with these comedians ranting on these things, I do wonder. Are we overdoing it? Have we eliminated so many germs and viruses that we have immune systems that might not be up to the job? Mother Nature, among other things, has always shown us that she never runs out of tricks. We hear a lot of warnings about that influenza strain that's threatening to mutate and potentially cause a pandemic. Are our bodies prepared for such a threat?

Whew. I'd better watch Discovery Channel tonight. This comedy stuff can kill me!


  1. That's funny. My kids aren't on any mind altering drugs (and hopefully never will be)...but I bet at least half of their classmates are. Pathetic, if you ask me.

    Annie =)

  2. Katie9:59 PM

    Bacteria do become resistant to treatment due to over use or unnecessary use of antibiotics. Gone are the days when a simple penicillin shot will cure it all. And bacteria and viruses do seem to be able to mutate to another strain or something. There is alot of scary stuff out there. There are so many things that affect a person's immunity... like during pregnancy if the mother smokes or not. I get frustrated at all the pill pusher doctors and the patients that just want to take a pill to treat the symptoms without any concern about the side effects.
    ~~ Katie

  3. I am so anti-med! This whole line of thinking has given me a headache. Dang! Where's my Ibuprofen?

  4. We are over medicated. However, I do see the value of medications. I work with ADHD kids all day, some of whom definitely need their Ritalin. And while we need to be careful with OTC and prescription drugs, I do think drugs do wonders for mental illnesses and the like.

    There's some truth to the 'oversanitizing' of our environment. Kids SHOULD be exposed to some germs and bacteria; it helps their immune systems.

  5. Anonymous2:42 PM

    WOW are you right about the pills. As a nurse, I give patients a pill for literally EVERYTHING! A pill to help 'em eat, a pill to help 'em poop, pills for their hearts, depression, fluid retention, and pills for the side effects of all these first pills. The list is unbelievable in the hospitals.
    I had to laugh at your "Meds anyone" comment. Once someone in a group had some meds and they literally said "Vicodin anyone?" LOL!
    Have a good weekend.

  6. When I took a nutrition class several years ago, I kept one bit of information with me: my professor said not to have your children use anti-bacterial soap. Their bodies need to build up the anti-bodies in order to have top-notch immune systems.

    The more I've messed around with drugs (mainly anti-depressants) the more I've learned that I'd rather go without.

    Our culture has grown to underestimate the healing powers that our bodies are born with. I know some people really really need to have medications in order to function "normally" but we truly need to start trusting our bodies more, and the pharmaceutical companies less.

  7. Yup...I have some mixed feelings on the whole medicine thing. We are certainly an over-medicated society by far (especially with antibiotics). And it's so hard to know when it's ok and not ok to use anything.

    Plus, as you say, the side effects are often worse than the symptoms. Get this:

    I had to get some pills for some bad dizzy spells I had been having. Guess what the warning on the bottle said?

    "May cause dizziness".

    Is it just me?


  8. You aren't kidding. Sometimes the warnings and after effects are way worse than the thing they were originally trying to treat.


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