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[pct-l] stress and medications

I just posted to the list without attaching my message, sorry. 
Here's what I wanted to post.

I would like to add my two cents about self diagnosing and self medicating trail ills. I've been reading a reports from the trail where a girl describes taking antibiotics for a number of 
various infections, and one she said was Giardiasis. It's not clear whether any of her ailments were diagnosed by a physician, but I'm an RN, and wanted to mention that the treatment for giardia is not an antibiotic, since the problem is not bacterial in origin. 

Many hikers, especially those who don't understand the necessity of proper water treatment, jump to the conclusion that highly publicized giardia is the cause of all backcountry tummy upsets. In fact, it usually is not, nor is the hiker's other diagnosis, food poisoning. Problems can result from careless sanitation, but the number one cause of overall malaise is generally Stress, from pushing oneself too hard too fast, worrying about competing with other hikers' accomplishments, and anxiety about being in an unfamiliar situation. The hiker in question has said she is extremely goal-oriented, and often expresses fears about weather, wildlife, trail conditions and so forth, and seems relieved at every opportunity to leave the trail. Offhand all of these would indicate the makings of a very stressful situation.

Many hikers in this position, especially newcomers to hiking, are unaware of basic sports medicine practices such as maintaining proper hydration. Hydration becomes even more crucial when other non-emotional stress factors are present such as altitude or hot weather. The fact that the hiker received replacement fluids at the emergency room, not another prescription, tends to indicate poor hydration and physical conditioning, not a bacterial infection. If a particular individual is capable of comfortably hiking only 5 or 6 miles a day, they will still move farther down the trail than if they hike several higher mileage days then spend days (or in the case of this particular hiker, weeks) recuperating constantly from the stresses brought on by their mode of hiking.

Sadly, it isn't difficult to obtain a prescription for antibiotics and other drugs, and some people insist on dosing themelves without proper diagnoses. This is ineffective to treat the actual physical complaint and may worsen it, and contributes to the problem of antibiotic-resistant microbes.

Standard disclaimers apply,     Barb

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