Saturday, July 30, 2005

The science of pain

I wonder how many interns (and politicians) will pay attention to the new views on pain. Men and women are different. WE are different. We are not the same. Equal maybe, but different as night and day. It is not just the way we treat little boys verses little girls. And now science puts the study behind the differences.

Sex and drugs

"Jul 21st 2005
From The Economist print edition
MALES and females respond to pain differently, even as children. In most places, boys are expected to show a stiff upper lip when they get hurt, while in girls wailing is, well, girlie. In part, this difference is learnt—or, at least, reinforced by learning. But partly, it is innate. It is hard, for instance, to blame upbringing for the finding that boy and girl babies show different responses to pain six hours after birth, or that male rats are more long-suffering than females. It is also life-long. Ed Keogh of the University of Bath, in England, and his colleagues have found that women report feeling pain in more bodily areas than men, and also feel it more often over the course of their lives.

...Nor is it only the mechanism of pain perception that differs between the sexes. Dr Keogh and his colleagues argue that there are significant differences in the ways men and women cope with pain, as well.

This conclusion is based on studies involving hospital patients, as well as others on volunteers who were exposed to a painful stimulus, such as an ice-water arm-bath. Using this, the researchers were able to measure the point at which people first notice pain, as well as their tolerance—the point at which they can no longer stand it. Men were able to minimise their experience of pain by concentrating on the sensory aspects—their actual physical sensations. But this strategy did not help women, who focused more on the emotional aspects. Since the emotions associated with pain, such as fear and anxiety, tend to be negative, the researchers suggest that the female approach may actually exacerbate pain rather than alleviating it."

But why do men (fathers, husbands, brothers) ALWAYS react to the common virus with extreme "Oh, how sick I am...." behavior. They are always SICKER than their female counterpoints. Wait, maybe it is because they ignore the illness for so long that the virus has taken over and controls them. Women, on the other hand, say GEE, I don't feel well, I think I'll take an analgesic tablet and rest for awhile, or even---HEY, here's an idea--- CALL THE DOCTOR!! Like failing to ask for directions after driving around a city for hours not finding the desired location, calling the doctor is not a man's natural inclination.

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