A letter to the ST Forum today gives me an excuse to rant about the issue of confidence.
Beware of medical tips from sales staff in health stores
I get urinary tract infection quite often and have undergone various tests like urine culture and uroscopy to make sure I don't have kidney stones.
My doctor recommended that I take cranberry extract as it is known to ease the problem.
I visited a GNC store to buy cranberry extract and the staff recommended that cranberry extract, garlic and acidophilus would work even better to kill the bacteria that cause the infection.
I completed the course and went for my urine test but bacteria were still detected in my urine. The doctor mentioned that garlic tablets would kill the effects of acidophilus.
I wonder whether the staff in health stores give the correct information or they just want to make a commission out of the sales.
Can health experts advise us on the adverse effects of medication if taken with the wrong food? I have been told that those taking high blood pressure medication shouldn't take grapefruit due to the acidity in the fruit.
Most people whom I've spoken to aren't aware as the pharmacists just dispense the medication.
Should we take medication as prescribed or must we do our own research on how well the medicine would work for us?
H. Bhaskaran (Ms)
There's UTI, and there's UTI; but let's assume that Ms Bhaskaran had been properly evaluated and that her doctor was correct in advising her to take cranberry tablets for prophylaxis against UTI. There is actually evidence to show that it is effective and cost-effective. I won't post a link here - just google it up and see for yourself.
Now let's move on to the health store staff. There is also some evidence that acidophilus does protect against UTI. Again, I leave you to google that up.
Now the garlic. Garlic kills bacteria. Acidophilus are bacteria. So angry doc was a little surprised to find that there is some evidence that garlic can (under in vitro condition) enhance the action of acidophilus used in the context of candida infection. You can google that one up too.
The interesting thing here is, Ms Bhaskaran concludes that her doctor was correct about the garlic and that the health store staff was wrong.
Because her doctor has an M.B.B.S. from a reputable university? Because he is made to undergo Continuing Medical Education to ensure he keeps up to date with the latest information?
Or is it because he has been right about so many things else before? Or because he wasn't the one who tried to sell her the cranberry, acidophilus, or garlic?
Now if Ms Bhaskaran did do her 'own research' by googling up the topics as I suggested you do above, she will find many websites with information on them. How will she know which ones are just advertisements, and which ones are 'proper' research information?
How do you know whether you can trust your doctor? How do you know whether the medical information you read is correct and unbiased?