Can Disease be Cured or Just Managed?
This is a question many patients with chronic disease ask of themselves and their doctors. The truth is, it is all individual. With some people and some diseases cures do exist and with others, they are only managed until a cure can be found or the right therapy implemented.
What is the Difference Between a Cure and Just Management?
A cure entails that all aspects of the disease process are gone, and they aren’t expected to return. Management of a disease is the mainstay of traditional medical practice and its primary function is to control symptoms while the original disease continues to ravage the body.
Allopathic medicine, or traditional medicine, use pharmaceuticals, therapy, topicals, and treatments to help treat bothersome symptoms while looking for a cure. An example would be an athlete’s foot where the use of antifungal creams can get rid of the fungus and the foot is cured of the infection. Other diseases have no cure such as pancreatic deficiencies that cause diabetes. While treatments exist to control the blood sugar and ravages of the disease, there is no viable cure for this type of diabetes and its long term effects on the body continue.
When is Cure and Management at a Point of Disagreement in Medicine?
Philosophies in medicine vary. Allopathic medicine (traditional medicine) is compartmentalized into a vast array of specialties making it difficult for a practitioner to see the whole picture and how one system may relate to another when planning a treatment regimen.
How many times have you gone to the doctor for a simple problem only to be referred to a specialist who never asks you about other dimensions in your life that may be affecting your condition, but, after all, he is a specialist and only focuses on his specialty. Thus, a specialist manages care but rarely cures the problem.
Take hypothyroidism for example. An endocrinologist will more than likely do a thyroid panel and if awry prescribe the appropriate medications to manage the symptoms. There will be no inquiry into whether the hypothyroidism is caused by iodine or selenium deficiency or both. Either deficiency when treated may cure hypothyroidism, but a focus on management means the origin of the problem is missed and the patient continues a silent sufferer of a chronic condition that could have easily been cured.
Grammar Often Leads to Confusion
Cure implies there is a certainty that a medical condition will not be present after a medical intervention. But many medical conditions have no cure, such as HIV, and management is the only option.
Treatment involves looking at the processes underlying the risks contributing to the medical condition. Cure involves certainty and treatment is a process. A process can lead to a cure, but management does not lead to a cure. It only leads to management of symptoms with the underlying cause unidentified. Healing means becoming whole while curing means getting rid of all evidence of disease. Terminology can be confusing.
So, when looking for a healing or a cure, you aren’t looking to manage your disease, you are looking for a practitioner, of whatever philosophy be it allopathic, functional, or integrative that will look at you as a whole person and seek not just to manage your care, but to get to know your systems and variables that might be contributing to your chronic illness and develop a comprehensive treatment plan to not just manage your disease, but to get at the root cause of the disease and heal you, possibly curing the illness.
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