We live in an age of information. I still find it amazing that the phone in my pocket can allow me to find directions to a business, wake me up in the morning, order a pizza, tell me where my car is parked, and send a prescription to the pharmacy for a patient. And of course, with Google, Wikipedia, WebMD and other sites, access to medical information is only a click or two away. Just type in your question or symptoms, hit search, and you will be flooded with information.
With so much information available, let me ask you a simple question. How do you know what is hype and what you can trust? I just did a Google search for “hypothyroidism treatment” and was rewarded with over 53 million results. A few minutes reading the top results will very likely leave you quite confused. If you have hypothyroidism you might find yourself asking “Can I still eat gluten? I can’t eat broccoli or cauliflower? I thought those were good for me. Do I need medication? Does drinking pickle juice help? Can I treat this with acupuncture? Is my doctor ordering the right tests?”
Personally I believe that there still is such a thing as truth. I am dismayed when I hear news of “alternate facts” or “fake news.” In case you didn’t realize it, it turns out there is no requirement for information on the internet, or in magazines or books for that matter, to uphold a standard of truth. Much of the information available to us is designed to get us to purchase a product or seek a service. How do we know if it is reliable? Who do we trust?
I encourage my patients to be their own advocates and take personal responsibility for their healthcare. I like it when my patients read about their health and ask me questions. But a common theme I’ve noticed is that many people get distracted, and sometimes even deceived, by all the information available and all the claims made – both on internet sites and in product advertising. This is where a good physician can be a powerful adviser for you. I would encourage you to seek at least one physician that you like, see regularly (at least once per year), and with whom you can be in a relationship. The key here is you need to know this doctor well enough to trust him or her, and the doctor needs to know you well enough to know what your health goals are, what your concerns are, and what’s important to you. If you are currently healthy, this doctor will likely be an internal medicine or family medicine doctor, and will be your “primary care physician” or PCP. For women, your OB/Gyn may fill this role. If you have a chronic medical condition, like heart disease or cancer, this doctor might be a specialist. If you have a hormonal condition like diabetes or thyroid disease, I hope this doctor might be here at Palmetto Endocrinology.
A physician who knows you well – who knows your goals and concerns, who knows what’s important to you – can help you navigate through all the healthcare information available to you. What are good sources for information? What are reliable treatment options? What testing do I really need? As it turns out, for example, the vast majority of people with hypothyroidism don’t need to restrict gluten and can eat all the broccoli they want. And they usually don’t need more or “special” tests. But they do need a doctor who listens to their concerns, asks about their current symptoms, and takes the time to search for the cause of these symptoms and provides advice to help alleviate those concerns.
So my hope is that you will seek, and you will find, a physician you can trust. Here at Palmetto Endocrinology, we look forward to helping you find a solution.