Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Most Hypochondriac Patient In The World

I was reading an article in the New York Times about the latest research into peanut allergies. It states how doctors now encourage patients to expose themselves to small amounts of allergens to prevent severe allergic reactions. As I always do, I looked over at the comments section. I do this mainly for my own entertainment as some of the hysterics expressed in these anonymous remarks are frequently quite funny.

But this one really took the prize for blowing me away by its sheer paranoia. Written by commentator2357 from the Bay Area, they wrote that, "I have a kind of allergy cancer that is like a peanut sensitivity, and which causes continual anaphylaxis triggered by mild heat, cold, exercise, stress, scents, foods, and many other things."

My goodness. How does that person manage to survive 24 hours? They get anaphylaxis to heat and cold? They can stop breathing in the middle of zumba because of an anaphylactic reaction to exercise? While I'm sure they truly believe they are that sensitive to their environment, I question the doctor who enables this type of behavior and belief.

We've all seen patients who tell you about their bizarre "allergies" but are in fact just known side effects. I've lost track of the number of patients who told me they are allergic to epinephrine because it made them tachycardic. How many times have patients told you they're allergic to narcotics because it causes constipation and itching. Then somebody somewhere dutifully lists that in the patient's EMR under the allergy section where it will reside for all eternity.

None of these patients would hold such thoughts if their doctors at some point educated them on what is a real allergy and what is just a side effect or maybe even mere coincidence. That would save so many other doctors from doing an eye roll when they meet them in the hospital. Having such a large number of allergies in one patient also harms the patient as maybe the best treatment for them is not available because someone years ago said they were allergic to it without any real concept of what a true allergy is.

I feel sorry for commentator2357. The blame for her hypochondriasis really belongs to her doctor who encourages this type of conduct. Physicians who enable these problematic patients just makes the rest of our lives that much more miserable in an already challenging work environment.

1 comment:

  1. I would not be so sure that this haunted individual received this advice from an MD. A more likely scenario is that they either sought out many an MD who would tell them what they wanted to hear, or (more likely) wound up with a charlatan (homeopath, naturopath, chiropractor or whatever) who reinforced their crackpot notions.