Is Ignorance Bliss? Not When There’s a Cure

Preventive medicine, among other health, nutritional and life-style factors, has seen the average life-expectancy rise by 20-plus years in the past five decades, but many people who undergo medical/health tests just don’t want to know the results. Consider this: as many as 55 percent of people who get tested for the HIV virus never return to get their results.

Researchers at the University of Florida who looked into this “test-but-don’t-see-the-results” phenomenon have found that people want to avoid distressing news when they feel they have no control over it. A positive HIV test, while neither necessarily final nor fatal these days, is something most people (55 percent, anyway) would rather not learn..

The Florida researchers found similar justifications for not seeking results of other medical tests. People would say, “I might regret finding out,” or “Learning that I’m at a high risk of diabetes would be distressing.”

The researchers also asked study participants if they would want to know their risk of a made-up disease, TAA deficiency. The more time the participants were given to consider the “disease” and its ramifications, it turns out, the more apt they were to want to know their risk, especially if they thought the “disease” were treatable, but not when they thought it was an incurable condition like Alzheimer’s disease or Huntington’s.

As medical science advances even further, genetic testing can now predict people’s propensity to contract certain diseases. But rare it is for someone who, like Angelina Jolie, when confronted with the results of a genetic test showing her at risk of breast cancer, chooses to have a double mastectomy to reduce or eliminate the risk.

Control, or the lack thereof, seems to be the one factor that scares people away from seeing their test results. They fear there may be nothing they can do about the verdict.

Now apply this to the science of sleeping. Nearly 40 million Americans have snoring/sleeping problems that they choose to live with rather than have tested to see how serious, or not serious, their snoring ritual may be. This could be a case of 1) their not realizing how serious a problem snoring can be and/or 2) their not realizing that snoring is something they can control, and control easily in most cases.

Sleep clinics such as the Snoring Center can provide both diagnoses and treatments that will control snoring, even the most extreme form known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). For the most part, simple 20-minute procedures can be accomplished in the office that will lead to amelioration of the snoring problem and relief from the next-day fatigue that results from sleeping interrupted by snoring and breathing cessation.

So, don’t let fear of the unknown — or the seemingly uncontrollable — prevent you from seeing a sleep professional about your snoring problem. There are treatments, and you can and will be in control of your destiny.

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