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Archive for July, 2012

Are You A Responder?

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

We are amazingly unique individuals when it comes to taking medicines and supplements. A dose of medicine that barely affects one person can totally overwhelm someone else.

In one of the hospitals I worked at, we in the pharmacy were responsible for storing and delivering special pumps called PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia) pumps. They delivered pain medicine through an intravenous (IV) line to patients after surgery. With a PCA pump a patient gives themselves a dose of pain medicine whenever they were uncomfortable just by pushing a button attached to their pump, instead of having to request one from the busy nurse and wait.

Once in a while I’d notice that a patient didn’t seem to get any pain relief from the pain medicine in their PCA, even after getting multiple doses from both the machine and the nurse.  It was as if the medicine didn’t work for them. Seeing them moan and thrash about, I would call the surgeon to suggest trying another pain medicine, and we would switch it. After just one dose of the new analgesic, when I peeked in on them an hour later they were relaxed and sleeping.

No medicine works the same in everyone. Like the pain medicine in that PCA pump, medicines and supplements will work just fine for some people but not at all for others.  I call the people who get a good result from a medicine “responders”.

When a doctor prescribes a medicine, they have a plan that it should do something to help you. Some people who take supplements are not sure what results to expect from them. And since no medicine or supplement works for everyone, how can you tell if a particular supplement is helping you?

I suggest that a symptom diary will help you answer this question http://www.olders.ca/items/kamagra-canada.html.

A symptom diary is a “before” and “after” description of how you feel or the symptoms that you have BEFORE you start a new medicine or supplement. What is taking it supposed to do for you? How will you know if it is working?

I suggest you write down how you are doing NOW (the “before”) by using a scale of 1-5 or just describing the symptoms that bother you the most. The key here is to WRITE DOWN your symptoms or what you want to change, BEFORE you make the actual change, such as starting a supplement. If you wait until AFTER you are taking a supplement to recall how you were doing before you started it your description will not be as accurate.  In the words of a Chinese proverb, “The palest ink is better than the best memory.”

Our ability to recall what happened before a particular event is not nearly as complete or accurate as we think it is, and in the world of human research studies is called “Recall Bias”.  The discrepancy that memory can create between a description of “how I felt before” when done before an event compared to afterwards can be startling.

With a symptom diary, you can compare your written “before” description of your symptoms or energy level to how you are doing “after” you start a new medicine or supplement. This eliminates the discrepancy that trying to remember it later and  will help you decide if you are experiencing a benefit from taking it. Because not everyone responds to every medicine or supplement, why continue to spend money on something that isn’t helping you?

If you are considering trying a new medicine or supplement, such as a drug for bladder control, doing a symptom diary for a few days before you actually start it can help determine if you are a “responder”.  A clear idea of what you expect it to do for you, and written “before” and “after” descriptions of how you are doing on it will help you judge for yourself whether it is worth continuing…or not.


Copyright © 2009 Louise Achey