Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Americans 'Sicker' Than British.

Ok, today’s post comes to you courtesy of OzzyC (Link on the right), who found the following article, and asked me to run with it:

“Study Shows Americans Sicker Than English”

Now, Ozzy didn’t actually give me a link to the article, so I have no idea what it contains.

Of course, my first instinct was to write something funny, a sort of cultural comparison as to which nation was ‘sicker’ (For example, the British compulsion for men to dress up as ladies, why we seem to find fart and toilet jokes incredibly funny…versus American things like electing a President that can’t find his own ass without both hands and a map…and Michael Jackson’s face, which I could write a twelve part series on without breaking a sweat (For example, the way his nose tilts upwards and looks an awful lot like Peter Pan’s, how he lives on Neverland Ranch, and honestly believes he’s never going to die.)

However, a point my Mum brought up has compelled me to write this a little more seriously.

You see, I don’t believe that the American public is physically any sicker than the British public, but I can understand why this study may have shown that.

It’s something I noticed within a few days in the country, and my parents did also.

Americans have absolutely no tolerance whatsoever for any kind of illness.

You see, in Britain, if someone gets the sniffles, they drink a hot cup of tea and try to take it easy for a day or so. If you get a light headache, you just wait for it to go away.

In America, the slightest illness has you reaching for an over-the-counter remedy. Headache? Grab some Tylenol. The Sniffles? Sinus tablets. Sore throat? Pass the Strepsils.

Let’s just say it really tripped me out the first time I saw an actual OTC drug vending machine in a hotel lobby.

In the end, when an Englishman gets ill, he’ll just put up with it and let his immune system sort it out. When an American gets ill, he wants that illness gone as soon as possible. Not very surprising in the most Capitalist nation in the world.

Which brings us to prescription drugs.

Americans take more prescription drugs than we do in England, and the doctors over here tend to be prescription happy.

As an aside, it’s like the way you get advertisements for prescription drugs over here. The way it’s supposed to work is you get ill, you go see your doctor, he diagnoses you, then prescribes the drug you need. However, these ads mean lots of people see the ads, think they have the disease mentioned, then go and demand this drug from their doctor.

Anyway, I think I’ve worked American Doctors’ prescription happiness out.

One of the big differences between the American and British legal system is that in Britain, if you attempt to sue someone and lose your case, you’re responsible for all the court costs. In other words, it’s a gamble. If you choose to sue someone, if you lose your case, you could end up paying thousands for the court costs, as well as your own legal fees.

In America, if you lose your case, you’re not responsible for any court costs. This, I believe, is why Americans sue each other more than any other nation on the planet.

Because there’s no risk in suing someone, you’re going to have more court cases.

So why do American Doctors write more prescriptions?

To cover their asses.

You see, if I go to see a Doctor, and he decides I don’t really need a prescription, then I get really, really, really sick, I sue him for negligence and incompetence for misdiagnosing me, and he ends up paying me a few hundred thousand dollars.

On the other hand, a lot of prescription drugs will do you no harm at all if taken when you’re not sick. Obviously this doesn’t apply to meds designed to lower blood pressure if your blood pressure is fine, etc. But you can pop anti-biotics when you’re fine, with no ill effects.

If your Doctor prescribes you something, tells you about the possible side effects etc…then something goes wrong…it’s the drug company’s fault, not his.

This is also why healthcare costs so much over here. The insurance doctors have to pay is absolutely ludicrous.

The one other thing I’ve noticed, that may actually make Americans sicker than English people is that, as a nation, America is extremely germophobic.

Think about this. Over here in America, people buy filters to filter their water, run air-filters in their homes, and are constantly spraying everything down in Lysol. American homes tend to be as germ free as possible.

So why is this a problem?

Because people, especially children, need to be exposed to germs and bugs in order to strengthen their immune system.

You get sick, your immune system fights it off, and ‘learns’ how to deal with it the next time. It’s the same reason we have vaccinations. All a vaccination does is infect you with a less intense version of the disease you’re being vaccinated against. Your immune system learns how to fight it off, and makes you immune to the disease.

Put it this way, if you where born in a completely clean environment, and grew up in a sealed chamber, having never been exposed to a single germ, bug or disease…you’d have the same problems as someone with full blown Aids. If you stepped out of your bubble, you’d be bombarded with all kinds of diseases…and your body wouldn’t have the first clue how to fight it off.

So, by people living in sterilized environments, they’re not exposed to the day-to-day minor bugs that we all get exposed to, and our immune systems are being weakened. The result? We get sicker more often.

And on that note, I’ll bugger off.


delmer said...

Drug commercials are out of hand. I like the old days when the docs told us what we needed. At least then, before non-stop drug commercials, if a patient said he suspected he might have something or need something the doc wouldn't have to worry that the patient was echoing something he saw on TV.

A couple of years ago I went to my doc asking for some specific bloodwork. I knew how it sounded when I asked (and I was very polite) and had to do some convincing to get what I asked for.

As it happens, I had a genuine problem that the bloodwork turned up. I'm certain my doc would have been a bit more open to my suggestion had not so many people before me come in self-diagnosed due to something they'd seen on TV.

(Of course, I could be wrong.)

OzzyC said...

I think of the immune system as a muscle, and I like to exercise it. Don't get me wrong, I wash my hands after hitting the restroom, but I certainly don't freak out and pull out the lysol every time someone in my office sneezes. The result? I'm seldom sick.

I also like to exercise my liver, but that's another story.