When will I get better?

For the full length article, please read below

This is the question every patient will ask (and should ask) when they see a health practitioner.

The answer to the question however is not so straight forward. There are many factors and variables that will determine how soon one’s condition will improve after receiving any form of health treatment. Below are some to consider:

How quickly you got ill

As a general rule of thumb, the more acute the disease, the faster the recovery. This means that the faster you got sick, the faster you should recover from that illness. For example, most people will get over a cold which comes on quickly after a few days of feeling unwell.

How long you have been ill for

The longer you have been suffering from an illness, the longer it will take your body to recover from it. Long-term/chronic illnesses cause physiological and structural changes to the body. When this happens, it will take the body a long time to reverse these changes. When there are structural changes, it may not be possible to reverse these without some sort of surgical or physical intervention. For example, some long-term rheumatoid arthritis sufferers have deformed joints of their hands and fingers. These are structural changes have occurred over a long period of time and cannot be reversed with any herbal or nutritional treatment but may be amenable to some surgical or physical intervention. There is a common naturopathic rule of thumb that states that it will take you at least a month to recover for every year that you have had an illness. That is to say that if you have had an illness for 5 years, expect at least 5 months of treatment before that illness can be resolved.

The type of illness

Some illnesses, like the common cold, are relatively easy to treat compared to say an autoimmune disease. Different diseases cause different changes to the body. Complex diseases cause complex changes to the body and therefore will take longer to treat.

Treating the symptoms or the root cause

It is often faster to get some relief from the symptoms of an illness than it is to completely correct the underlying cause of the illness. Many western pharmaceutical drugs are great for relieving symptoms. For example, the underlying cause of hypertension for some people may be that they have a poor diet and are overweight. Treating the high blood pressure with blood pressure medications can result in a rapid drop in blood pressure but that is just treating the symptom. To treat the underlying cause of the hypertension, we need to address the poor diet and excess body weight. This will take time. Natural therapies such as Chinese medicine, seek to address both the symptoms and the underlying cause of an illness. So you may get a fast resolution of your symptoms using natural therapies, but to address the root cause of your illness, it will still take time.

Other things to consider

There are strengths and weaknesses of each health modality. Some are better at treating musculoskeletal issues and others are better at treating complex medical issues. Choosing the correct health modality and the correct practitioner to work with within the correct health modality will expedite your recovery from your illness. For example, if you have a complex non-musculoskeletal medical issue, you will not get good results seeing a physiotherapist who does dry needling. Instead, you will get better and faster results seeing a qualified and experienced acupuncturist.

Often how fast you can get better comes down to how compliant you are with the recommendations and advice made by your health practitioner. If you do not take your prescribed herbs or nutritional supplements regularly then you may not get any results. If you do not change your diet and lifestyle as advised, then you may not get long term resolution of your illness. If you do not see your health practitioner for regular follow ups, then again you may not get satisfactory results either.

As you can see, how quickly you can better after seeing a health practitioner depends on a myriad of factors. Some are within your control and others are not. Having the correct expectation of the time frame required to get yourself better will prepare you mentally, emotionally and financially when you embark on your health journey with your practitioner.

Dr Reece Yeo


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *