The Patient’s Role in Fighting Disease

Whether it is during a sojourn at the hospital or while briefly visiting a clinic, the role one expects one’s doctor to fulfill is rarely in question. Whether undergoing surgery, engaging in recovery or battling an ailment, we expect doctors to fix us, help us and heal us. What often goes unrealized, however, is the effect of a patient’s own attitude and conviction towards the healing process.

Dr. Benjamin Taimoorazy of Guardian Headache and Pain Management Institute in Bloomington explains: “A physician has many different treatments to offer, but patients who take a pro-active role in their own well-being and continue in physical therapy or any other activities that are necessary, generally experience a much faster recovery.”

A proactive role means a patient is not merely a passive bystander to the processes of surgery, recovery and fighting disease. “A committed patient that understands their disease process, are motivated to get better, have high spirits and have good support will usually fly through the recovery phases and rehabilitation,” Dr. Taimoorazy says. “Those who are not motivated may struggle in this process.”

“Hormone levels also have tremendous impact on recovery from any illness,” the doctor adds. “This concept has been studied extensively and has very strong scientific basis.” Essential for coping with stress, the body’s adrenal glands release stress hormones—steroids called cortisone and catecholamines. As a patient undergoes surgery, their stress levels rise and so do their levels of stress hormones. The same happens when the body is preparing to fight disease.

Cortisone and catecholamine are meant to help in the initial stages of the fight, but that aid comes with a price, as Dr. Taimoorazy explains. “Steroids are immuno-suppressants,” he says. “And an immune system is essential to fight infections and cancer. It’s necessary for cortisone levels to go up for initial defense but they need to go back down so the body can start repairing itself and the immune system can go back to full strength.”

Unfortunately, those stress hormone levels can remain high even when a patient is unconscious during surgery. “Surgery is considered stress to the body,” the doctor says. Even with general anesthesia, the body still registers the pain even though the patient is not consciously aware of it. When that stress and pain are registered, the adrenal glands are triggered to release hormones and the immune system is suppressed, which can be “deleterious to the patient’s outcome.” This is why some doctors use regional anesthetics before surgery so the surgical site is numbed while the patient is still conscious. With the site shut down, the nervous system fails to register pain during surgery. “Where there’s no pain, there’s no stress,” Dr. Taimoorazy assures. “The level of cortisone secretion is very little.” This is especially important when undergoing the removal of a cancerous tumor, as micro-emboli released by a malignant tumor during surgery can spread unrestricted if the immune system is suppressed. “If the immune system remains intact, it can fight off small cancer cells and prevent their spread.”

“Any type of body condition or emotional state can alter the levels of these hormones,” Dr. Taimoorazy continues. “So a patient who is motivated, active, engaged and has better outlooks for future recovery, has a better chance to recover from any type of chronic pain, severe infection, surgical procedure, or cancer. That’s why we want patients to be educated. Once you know what’s going on, you have a better understanding and can be objectively participating in your own wellbeing. Our job as health care providers is not only to treat the condition but to educate patients, to give them the hope and insider information as to how to participate in their own recovery from any type of illness.

For more information, you may contact Dr. Benjamin Taimoorazy at Guardian Headache and Pain Management Institute, 309-808-1700. This practice is located at 2203 Eastland Drive, Suite #7, in Bloomington Illinois.



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