Consult from Dr.Google

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Patients frequently want to be proactive and research what’s going on with their bodies.  Of course, I’m not readily available, as are most physicians typically not available to answer instant questions (although my practice does have a patient portal that makes it fairly easy to ask questions).  So in comes Dr. Google.  Of course, I am not criticizing search engines at all…I’m hoping to find readers   through a search engine.

The issue becomes your symptoms may be serious, and the information that comes back to you may not be relevant, helpful, or could be harmful.  I don’t know right away who published this information.  Did they study medicine?  Are they trying to sell you something?

I’ll admit, I am willing to listen to the differential diagnosis generated by Dr. Google, but not for very long.  Patient visits are already too short, and I don’t want to waste valuable time sifting through symtpoms generated by Dr. Google.  Furthermore, I don’t want you as the patient to be worried about something that may not be a threat.

I often ask my patients if they are feeling the need to look up health information to be mindful of the source.  To be on the safe side, there are a few websites that I always refer patients because the information is non-commercial (there won’t be a drug company trying to sell you a medication) and the information is vetted.

Medline Plus

This website provides safe information concerning conditions and medications for you and your entire family.

Consumer Lab

One of my favorite references for herbal supplements.  I routinely consult this for information on herbal supplements.

I use Google just as everyone else does, but often during a visit, I don’t have the luxury of telling patients why I can’t use Dr. Google’s recommendations while I’m taking care of my patients.

 

Just as a reminder, these substitutes are not replacment for emergency situations or questions, so if you are having an emergency you should still go to the ER or call 911.  

Smoking and ways to quit

I want to provide fair information to patients.  I recently received a medical news update concerning how effective E-cigarettes are for someone who wants to stop smoking.

Anytime a patient is ready to stop smoking I want to encourage them as much as possible.  The use of E-cigarettes has grown in popularity, and in all honesty, most physicians don’t actually know how to advise patients.

This particularly study tells us that if a person is serious about stopping smoking, using an E-cigarette may not help.

Be willing to discuss the topic with your physician SEVERAL times…no matter how you choose to quit, it may take another attempt, and another..and another..its okay to get frustrated just don’t give up.

Medical Approach

I typically tell patients that the best way to stop smoking is still going to be use of medications, however, the failure rate of all methods (using nicotine replacement, E-cigs, vapes, or “cold turkey”) is high, so it will take multiple attempts to successfully quit.  Medications such as Chantix and Zyban are the highest performing.  These have been clinically studied.  With any medications, there can be side effects, and you’ll need to discuss with your physician if this option is best for you.

Mindfulness Approach

Reiki can help with any psychological issues, including addiction, and the relaxing nature of a self administered treatment or by a Reiki practitioner,  can help to alleviate the stress experienced during nicotine withdrawal.

When I discuss smoking with patients, I like them to analyze what they get out of smoking.  One aspect of smoking is the breathing…there’s a long inhale and a pursed lip exhale…very similar to the controlled breath of Yoga called Ujjiy Breath, or Victorious Breath.  This is a simple breathing technique frequently done  in Yoga classes.

Ujjiy Breath is done like so:

  1. Take in a deep breath through your nose.
  2. Exhale while gently closing off the back of your throat as if you’re sighing, keeping the lips slightly parted. The exhale should produce a sound, such as ocean waves or the wind blowing, and should be drawn out.  The long exhalation helps you to relax.
  3. Repeat several times, up to 10 if your comfortable.

You can do Ujjiy Breath at any time, and this is a great fast method to go to for Victory against smoking (haha…that was a joke…see what I did).

There is a technique some have heard of called EFT, or Tapping.  I like to recommend tapping as a tool to help a patient stop smoking as it helps with some of the wiring of the brain to eliminate many psychological and emotional issues. I am not trained in EFT but have experienced some of the benefits.  There is a free e-book and more resources on this at the EFT Universe.

 

Update on Effectiveness of Varenicline On Smoking Cessation after a Heart Attack

I received a Primary Care update from Practice Update  with new research  concerning using Varenicline (or Chantix) to help people stop smoking.  The link will take you to the abstract.  In summary, Varenicline is helpful in patients after they’ve had heart attack, but even in those patients that took Varenicline to stop smoking  the failure rate was still high (around 60% started smoking again within one year).

I prescribe Varenicline in patients that want to use it.  Stopping smoking is a big deal, and there is no one right way to quit.  But every patient needs support and care in their attempts to quit.  And keep quitting…expect failure;  it may take up to 13 attempts to quit, but be ready to try a new tactic.

I also came across a very nice post on Reiki Rays using Reiki to Heal addictions.