The first sign of any sort of headache is often immediately met with a dash to the medicine cabinet or kitchen to get some sort of pain killer, be it for a few hours of relief or even twelve hours at a time. Yet somehow, this seems to be lacking.

Symptoms and Causes
When a person has a headache, they often immediately go to get some sort of headache medication to combat it. Whenever I say to people that my head happens to hurt a little bit, the first reaction is almost immediately to offer me something for it. There is the sole exception of my brother, who offers to massage the neck area right around where there is most often tension. Within several minutes, the headache is relieved. This is because, he has told me, the majority of headaches that people experience are the direct result of some sort of tension. If the tension is relieved, the headache goes away. However, people generally find it considerably more convenient to take a painkiller than to get relief for the tension.

The problem I find with painkillers and much medication, generally speaking, is that instead of fixing that which ails you, it masks it or covers it up. So the tension or whatever is causing the headache is still there, but the pain is not. It is the equivalent of accidentally bashing a hole in your bedroom wall with a hammer and then covering it up with a framed photograph. The hole in the wall has not gone away, but now you can’t see it.

This problem is certainly not limited to painkillers, as I have mentioned. Medication that is meant to help with stuffy noses and runny noses do not make you not have whatever is giving you the runny or stuffed up nose go away. It is actually delaying the healing process. This is because the runny nose is a defense on behalf of the body to try and flush the illness out of it. By stopping yourself from having a runny nose you are only making the healing process that much longer.

Upset the Stomach
The worst offender, I believe, of any of these medications is the type that is supposed to help you with an upset stomach. There are some people who take medication because they are constipated, others who take medication because they have mild to strong diarrhea. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to people who take both sorts of medication, going in between the two states. I will admit that in the time I spent in Israel I had a week or two of upset stomachs, probably due to the fact that all of the food that we were served was fried. I, not being accustomed to much fried food (Growing up, my mother was strictly opposed to fried food due to cholesterol / fat brought about by fried food) did not react to so much of it. I thus found myself taking some medication for an upset stomach.

However, I strongly believe that the majority of cases of people needing to take some sort of medication for upset stomachs would be averted if people would be more careful in what they eat. People going out to eat often times rely on fast food restaurants, which do not serve what could constitute as "healthy food."  Even in the comfort of one’s own home, many people choose to consume food products so full of preservatives and chemicals that it is no wonder that they find themselves with an upset stomach later. But they worry not, for they have the medication to combat whatever ill effects their unhealthy diets cause.

The Magazine That Was Right
Only in recent years has the title of the magazine “Prevention” made so much sense to me. Then there is the oft quoted saying about the value of an ounce of prevention. It is far too easy to take headache medication whenever we get a headache – considerably easier than trying to determine what caused the headache in the first place. Moreover, to determine what one can do in ones life to avoid getting such headaches.

For example, I have a fairly bad headache because I have a lot of tea in the morning without eating much. If I am attempting to write something and I’m not conscious about it, I might even down a whole pot of tea. Then, a few hours later, long after the brief high of caffeine has subsided, I find myself with a strong headache, the likes of which does not go away for awhile. Sometimes it is so bad that I have to lie down for awhile. But I will not take something for it – it usually doesn’t do all that much good and the headache goes away eventually. Similarly, if I stare at the screen for too long I get a headache. Solution? I take breaks while I am working, and get up to go to the kitchen. Have a cup of tea. Of course, that just goes back to the other sort of headache…

This is not to say that I am against all medication. Far from it. I am well aware that there are many medications which actively help people who are struggling with AIDS and many other such ailments. However, I wish to suggest that there are also a great many sorts of medication which can be avoided. Moreover, there are many cases of medication which is very effective, but could be substituted with an equally effective medication which would be less detrimental to ones health. It seems now that antibiotics are prescribed for things which could also be fought off with other types of medication. It is often said that the human body gradually grows resistant to antibiotics. With that being the case, it is considerably better, for example, to treat acme with topical ointments and good cleaning habits rather than antibiotics.

Medicine has a valuable place in society. However, we must not forget things such as good diet, not overeating, moderately exercising, and other such things. We cannot become a society wherein a person does not worry about weight gain because they can just take a pill to make it go away. In many cases, the best way to combat an illness is by not getting it in the first place. There is also the world of vitamins and homeopathic medicine, but that merits its own discussion. Be well.