Relatively Speaking: What is the Risk?

We often feel we must address any risk of illness without looking at all the factors involved.  Assessing relative risk before taking medication is important.  For instance, if you are traveling, do some research into the risks associated with various immunizations and prophylactic medications.  For instance read this article on the relative risk of getting malaria on your particular trip vs. some of the dangerous side effects of malaria drugs.

We need to pay attention to risk of illness vs. risk of, and severity of, side effects from medications.  As a society we fear some things all out of proportion to the relative risk of injury or illness.  For instance there is a much higher fear of flying, a relatively safe method of travel,  than there is of driving a vehicle, a much higher risk activity.  I, for instance, like to hike and camp.  Often my family and friends indicate I should be careful of wild animals.  If I take a walk in my neigbourhood in the city there is less concern, but probably a higher risk of injury from vehicles, or criminals.  I also bike, recently there is concern that bike helmet laws prevent more active participation in commuting by bike. There is risk of injury on a bike and risk of attack by wild animals while hiking, camping etc. And, the risk of sitting on the couch and not exercising is the highest risk of all.

When it comes to treating illness, if you are considering taking medication for high blood pressure, hot flashes, a gastrointestinal disorder, or regularly have dental or other Xrays or other radiation involved tests, for example, look into the side effects or the risks involved long term. Assess the danger.  Think about how you might prevent, lower risk or heal through modifying your behavior or by finding a less intrusive way to treat what ails you.  There is a lot of information out there.  Some reliable, some not so much so.  It is important to do your research carefully.

Assess the risks, make an informed decision.  It is your health and your body. Take charge.

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