Health Magazine

To Take Tylenol Or Not To Take Tylenol

By Gjosefsberg @gjosefsberg

Dr. Mario TylenolI was miserable last weekend. I was congested, my throat ached, my head hurt and my body felt like a 500lb gorilla had used it as a punching bag. I was feeling and acting pretty pitiful when my wife said “how about you take some Tylenol?” My guess is I was annoying the crap out of her with my whining but that question got me thinking, why don’t I take more medication? I resist taking anything from Tylenol to aspirin. I didn’t take the anti inflammatory medication my doctor prescribed for my elbow and I didn’t take any anti histamines when I developed an allergy to something unknown last summer. Why not?

The case against medicine

First, don’t get me wrong. I am not against all medicine. If I’m sitting there with a badly broken leg then by all means, give me some pain killers. However, I believe that we should listen when our bodies try to tell us something. Unfortunately, our bodies cannot speak to us with words, so they speak to us with feelings. When my body wants me to stop being awake, it makes it hard to keep my eyes open. When my body wants me to stop walking, it makes me feel soreness in my feet. Should I suppress these signals and not listen to my body?

In fact, many of these signals are valuable actions in and of themselves. Sneezing and coughing aren’t just signs that you’re sick, they’re ways for your body to try and get rid of crap in your respiratory system. A fever isn’t just annoying, it’s a way for your body to try and burn out bacteria that are causing a problem. If I suppress these behaviors, am I not doing harm to my body by not allowing it to function as it should?

Except where’s the fine line between listening to your body and allowing sickness to rampage? Are there “false” signals that I should in fact suppress or “bad” behaviors that are doing my body more harm than good?

There’s No Such Thing As Spicy Tuna Tarragon…

A few years ago I ate something I shouldn’t. (for the record, three week old potato salad actually tastes pretty good when you don’t know what you’re eating). I woke up three hours later and proceeded to spend 4 hours in the bathroom while my body evacuated itself through any possible means (I’ll spare you more details than that). Should I have taken something to make the nausea go away? Probably not, my body needed to get rid of those things. However, if I was a child, my parent should rush me to the hospital since a child’s body may not be able to handle such a violent episode. That is, in some cases I should let my body do what it wants and in some cases I should seek help.

What about allergies? Should I put up with an allergy or take something for it? Obviously I should treat any serious reactions because they’re false signals. The body is making a mistake when it has an allergic reaction and that mistake could end up killing us if untreated. So why should I allow a less severe allergic reaction to persist in the name of “listening to my body”?

First, Do No Evil

In the end, I come down on the side of caution.

  • If something seems threatening, go to the doctor. Are the symptoms so severe that, even if they are valid, there’s a chance of harm? Am I coughing so hard I’m tearing up my throat? Is the fever so high it might do permanent harm? Can that child handle the symptoms that come with food poisoning? I’m not a trained medical professional and if there’s any doubt at all in my head, I go see one.For anything less serious, I try to pay attention to what my body is telling me.
  • Is my body telling me something worthwhile? Allergic reactions are false signals and can be ignored (medicated).  Anything else gets listened to. That pain in my foot I felt while running ended up being a stress fracture and I shouldn’t have medicated away the pain. Instead, I should have rested. If my body wants to cough I let it. Same applies to sneezing. If my body wants to run a fever, I let it. If my head hurts then I should listen to that and stop doing what I’m doing. If I feel crummy then maybe I should go to bed.
  • The only time I medicate is if there’s something I absolutely must do and cannot avoid. That’s the only reason I take a Tylenol and even then I try to keep in mind that the pain isn’t really gone, it’s just masked. My body is still trying to tell me something, I’ve just chosen not to listen for a while. As soon as possible though, I should go back to listening.

In the interest of not being sued, I will say yet again that this is all just my opinion and I’ve already mentioned that I am not a trained medical professional. It just seems to me that we’ve stopped listening to the signals our bodies tell us. Instead, we try to medicate everything away and then go on with our lives as though nothing was wrong. I think we should listen more.

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I apply this to mental state too. When I went through my divorce, I also went through a few months of depression. Someone told me I should be on anti depressants but I disagreed. Feeling the pain helped me get through it in a way that masking the pain would not. My brain was telling me “this sucks, you’re sad and you need to deal with being sad”. That said, those people with real and permanent chemical imbalances might absolutely benefit from anti depressants. Same might apply to those folks who are in a severe and prolonged depression.


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