The holiday request that got me thinking…

I hope you had a happy — and healthy — Thanksgiving. I spent the holiday with family and friends and I’m truly thankful for all of the wonderful people in my life. But I noticed a few things over the weekend that left me more than a little dismayed.

First, it’s downright mind-boggling how prevalent obesity and metabolic syndrome are in this country. I know I’ve said this before, but it always catches me a little off guard when I travel. The vast majority of people I saw out and about were overweight — and, sadly, borderline obese — which is one of the hallmark symptoms of metabolic syndrome. (Other symptoms include elevated triglycerides, high blood pressure, high fasting blood glucose, and low HDL cholesterol.)

And this isn’t just a vanity issue. Obesity — and the metabolic syndrome that inevitably goes along with it — is the last stop before full blown diabetes sets in.

Of course, given the environment we live in, it really is no surprise these diseases have reached epidemic proportions.

Literally everywhere I went this past weekend, there were reminders of just how “convenient” it is to eat poorly. Cinnabon…Pizza Hut…McDonald’s…Starbucks (and their infamous pumpkin spice latte)– the list goes on and on. There are some shockingly terrible choices out there.

So I can’t tell you how proud and delighted it makes me to know that you strive NOT to make them.

But there’s another epidemic I noticed this weekend. One that’s just as common as metabolic syndrome. Maybe even more so. I know it’s something nearly all of my patients struggle with on a daily basis. And so do most of my family and friends.

I’m talking about pain.

I don’t think there was one day this holiday weekend where I didn’t hear someone complain of a headache…or a sore back…or a crick in the neck…or throbbing joints.

And these complaints were almost always followed up by one seemingly innocent — but potentially deadly — question: “Do you have any Tylenol/Advil/Motrin?”

Now, I try to stay off of my soapbox when I’m at social gatherings. But I came THIS CLOSE to swatting the pill bottles right out of people’s hands.

It was a big eye opener for me. And it got me thinking about how widespread the problem of pain — and pain relief — really is. So when I got home I sat down with my laptop and started to do some digging into the research.


There’s really no other way to put it.

Some of the things I found truly shocked me. (And not much surprises me anymore.) In fact, I can’t do them justice in a single Reality Health Check. So I decided to devote some time over the next few weeks to an in-depth look at this important topic.

Starting with the common over-the-counter painkillers so many people pop regularly without a second thought. More on that tomorrow.

Stay tuned.