How are you feeling today?

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Suzy Cohen

     DEAR
     PHARMACIST

It’s such a simple question and yet, I bet your own opinion of how you feel matters little to your doctors. It’s quite frequent that you’re told not to worry about your health if a lab test comes back as “normal.” The assumption is made that nothing’s wrong.

New research from Rice University in Texas suggests that how you feel is a more reliable indicator of future illness than your labs. I concur. If you were talking to me, I would trust what you tell me more than I do any piece of paper from a lab.

That’s true for many reasons.

For one, the reference ranges on labs are often bad because they were determined by a sick population. Or your blood samples may not have been centrifuged long enough. Maybe your samples weren’t properly refrigerated in transit. There are many other possible reasons to doubt lab results.

I did a one-man experiment recently, to see what happens when you use two different labs to measure the same thing. We tested Sam’s c4a levels, an inflammatory biomarker. Quest determined the level to be 9,725 and Labcorp said it was 319.

Can you see how messed up your treatment regimen will be if you rely solely on labs? The numbers can be off by thousands!

Sometimes the biomarkers that doctors test you for are just for screening, rendering them pretty useless (in my humble opinion). For example, thyroid testing and dosage changes are often based on your TSH blood test. But that test isn’t measuring your thyroid hormone!

And total cholesterol lab results are useless because they don’t tell you particle size or number. Yet millions of statin prescriptions have been written based solely on this number.

So when I read the Rice University research conducted by Dr. Kyle Murdock, Dr. Christopher Fagunde and the rest of their team, it made a ton of sense to me. The truth is: Physicians should stop telling you everything is fine because your labs are “normal” when you are sitting there in tears trying to explain that something feels wrong.

You should not be ignored if you’re not feeling any better on medication. They should trust you. And you should trust your instinct more.

This is not an excuse to go all hypochondriac on me, okay? I’m just saying if you feel bad, keep digging at what the root cause is. I’m also hoping you don’t go order a cheeseburger and fries to celebrate your “normal” cholesterol.

According to Dr. Fagundes, a professor of psychology at Rice University, “When a patient says, ‘I don’t feel like my health is very good right now,’ it’s a meaningful thing with a biological basis, even if they don’t show symptoms.”

If you’d like to learn more about this, I will email you a longer version of this article. Just sign up for my newsletter at www.suzycohen.com. How happy would you be to know that “it’s not in your head?”

This information is opinion only. It is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Consult with your doctor before using any new drug or supplement.

Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist and the author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist and Real Solutions from Head to Toe. To contact her, visit www.SuzyCohen.com.