Symptom or cause?

One of my biggest pet peeves is the focus on symptoms and not a search for the cause.

I don’t know if we’ve just become a society of whiners or if there’s a deeper underlying reason for our emphasis on what should be done about our multitude of symptoms.

Sometimes it feels like politicians and the media prey on our propensity to act this way.

An easy “fix” of the symptom can be a Tylenol for a brain tumour or giving a homeless person a bed for one night.

And yes, we tend to go to our doctor with a symptom and expect to get a remedy.

Most doctors don’t have time for the lengthy investigation on how you got to the state you’re in so they give you something to solve the problem. If the solution isn’t straight forward there will be tests to pinpoint and clarify the symptom.

Here’s an example…

One of the multitudes of tests I had over the last year to diagnose why I was in so much pain led to the discovery that there was an unusually high amount of calcium in my urine. The doctor mentioned this to me but we were focused on other negative test results so we let that one slide. Thank goodness my doctor didn’t feel the need to explore the cause and luckily she didn’t just give me a pill to cure the problem.

I knew right away why the reading was high. My daily trips to Dairy Queen were clearly having an impact. I opted to not share this with my doctor and curbed my Blizzard intake to a couple times a week. Problem solved right?


And it goes back to symptom and cause.

It’s the analogy of peeling an onion. The next question should have been, “Why am I stuffing ice cream in my face every day when I know it hurts me?”

See how this works? And can you see that the problem just might be bigger than some extra calcium in my pee or my clear enjoyment of Blizzards.

This is when you can get closer to the truth and the root cause of why we do what we do.

The examination isn’t easy.

But wouldn’t we be better off if we started to search for the true cause of our troubles?

Symptoms are easy to spot.

Why do we still have so many homeless people? What is the cause?

I’m guessing we would then have to deal with our other favourite fallback…




2 replies
  1. Moira
    Moira says:

    Perhaps a silly question, but an honest one… is the high calcium levels really due to high diary consumption? As in, does that mean you’re lactose intolerant, or can’t tolerate dairy? Or is the calcium levels due to something else? Did you ever find out?


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