09 May 2007
Hey! I should have had an IgE!
I’ve found medical writing a soul-satisfying career because of the chance to help other people live longer, healthier lives.
Press releases, tables of contents from medical journals, medical news summaries, and FDA alerts flood my email box every day. I devote a day or two every month to reading them, not only looking for the most important and interesting research advances to write about in my magazine columns but also keeping up to date with what is happening in fast-moving medical fields.
Like a miner panning a stream, I find an occasional gold nugget in that flood of data—useful information about my own medical conditions and those of my family and friends. My own health has benefited as a result.
I never took a coxib for my arthritis because I had read the original studies and seen that the results did not support the hype.
When the FDA recently removed a drug I took from the market, I knew about it before my specialist did.
According to a new study released last month, one of the drugs I take for my arthritis reduces my chance of death by two-thirds. That’s one drug I’ll insist on staying on.
And just this week, I read a press release from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America encouraging people with asthma to ask their doctors what their IgE level is. (IgE is an abbreviation for immunoglobulin E, an antibody whose levels are high in people with allergies.) The organization claimed that it’s just as important for people with asthma to know their IgE level as it is for people with diabetes to know their HbA1c or for a person with high blood pressure to know their blood pressure. You can be sure I’ll take that press release to my next asthma check-up to discuss whether this test would be useful in my case.
How ironic that one of the greatest beneficiaries of my “altruistic” career is myself.