We may disagree on medical minutiae, but we can all concur that the best way to treat disease is to look at random posts from Facebook and Twitter. OK, maybe not, but we do know that the onslaught of overconfident spewers of misinformation has increased exponentially since social media entered the fray. Whether we look to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the top eight spaces on your Myspace account, misinformation spreads around the world before the truth remembers its password.
I will venture a guess that pandemic stress and a continuous influx of work in your lives have not given you adequate time to scour Twitter for the current curative trends in home-brewed treatments. I am here for you, and after hours of what I will call rEsEaRch, I have found the answer that has been hiding in plain sight this whole time.
This miraculous cure-all will leave you flat-out gruntled (it's a word). It softens skin, soothes indigestion, and makes migraines disappear. Not only that, it eases asthma, crushes cancer, and can even alleviate arthritis. It slices, it dices, and it even juliennes fries. Most importantly, users claim, it can completely cure and prevent anyone from getting COVID-19. Yup, this amazing therapy is a preventive and curative marvel. I can feel you doubters out there, but you cannot argue with the results! So, what is this phenomenal treatment that has been hiding in plain sight?
You guessed it: urine! Good old-fashioned pee-pee is the key-key to health. Well, at least according to a terrifyingly large number of partakers on social media. What's that? You thought diet and exercise could help your health? Pssh, nah. My urea-minded friends have informed me that the answer lies not in what you put in yourself, but what you push out. Then after it is out, you put it back in again. I am not making this up. You may not know that I have been recommending Dr. B's Curative Golden Sunshine for $50 a glass for years, but no one has been buying. (It's actually just orange juice, you weirdos.)
People have become enamored with urine. The current trend is aged urine, where you leave your pee out for a while before consuming it. Yes, it sounds disgusting, but I decided I shouldn't judge until I looked deeper to see if it might actually have some benefits. I searched for the definitive evidence. Then...I could not find any definitive evidence. I did, however, find trough-loads of personal testimonies about how it helped.
So, what is the point? First, some people cannot be convinced that drinking week-old urine is not a magical cure for every known disease. Second, misinformation is dangerous.
Many believed at the start of the pandemic that hydroxychloroquine was a possible treatment. We had little to go on at that time and little to lose by trying. We discovered over time, practice, and research that it did little. Science disproved its efficacy, so we moved on, right? Ha, of course not! Physicians tried to explain that taking massive doses of this would be nothing more than a placebo, but the misinformation train kept chugging along.
Ivermectin seemed to have curative properties. This has also been proven to be untrue. Unfortunately, and predictably, much misinformation flooded the internet about this drug, and online arguments about its efficacy continue. The vaccine was ultimately proven to have significant benefit in decreasing morbidity and mortality, but antivaccine movements quickly spread falsehoods.
People also claimed the vaccine caused magnetism. Others said it had microchips in it, while some conveyed that Big Pharma created a COVID-19 hoax as a marketing ploy to sell more hand sanitizer. I have heard people ranting that no one should ever wear masks due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Yes, monoxide. Yes, I know.
Call Out Misinformation
Online misinformation cures vary from garlic to cocaine to coconuts. It is deeply rooted, and the scientific community has been a confusing mishmash of disconnect and fury while trying to pick up the pieces. This breeds frustration for everyone except those selling placebos and panaceas at exorbitant prices.
We now have frustrated physicians trying to educate annoyed patients who are trying to decipher what is truth from a multitude of sources. Some sources contain truth, some are a mixed bag, and others are blatantly false and potentially dangerous.
How do we counteract misinformation? Unfortunately, with great difficulty. Consistent, well-informed messaging helps. Double-check to be sure that what you explain (and post online) is actually factual. Call out misinformation. Try also not to engage with trolls who just like to rile up people. All of this is easily said and often hard to do, but if that doesn't work, perhaps you could offer a glass of Dr. B's Curative Golden Sunshine.
Dr. Brandtis an emergency physician currently working in New Zealand (after 12 years in Michigan). Read his blog and other articles athttp://brandtwriting.com, follow him on Twitter@brandtwriting, and listen to his humorous ED podcast, “EpineFriends,” which can be found athttp://apple.co/3d9Nco2. Read his past EMN columns athttp://bit.ly/EMN-BrandtsRants.