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Your medicine works better if you BELIEVE it will, study finds

The graph above shows the number of operations to remove an appendix after participants received antibiotics.  They were divided on whether they thought the antibiotics would be ineffective (orange), thought they might work (green), or thought they would be completely successful (blue).  Results showed those who thought antibiotics would be completely effective were the least likely to need an operation to have their appendix removed

Medications work better if you expect them to, study finds.

Appendicitis patients who thought antibiotics would help were ‘significantly’ more likely to see their symptoms improve.

Researchers from the University of Washington said it revealed the powers of the mind and the placebo effect.

It’s the idea that your brain can convince your body that a treatment makes you feel better.

Mindset can’t lower your cholesterol or shrink a tumor, as far as scientists know, but it can improve symptoms modulated by the brain, such as pain.

The graph above shows the number of operations to remove an appendix after participants received antibiotics.  They were divided on whether they thought the antibiotics would be ineffective (orange), thought they might work (green), or thought they would be completely successful (blue).  Results showed those who thought antibiotics would be completely effective were the least likely to need an operation to have their appendix removed

The graph above shows the number of operations to remove an appendix after participants received antibiotics. They were divided on whether they thought the antibiotics would be ineffective (orange), thought they might work (green), or thought they would be completely successful (blue). Results showed those who thought antibiotics would be completely effective were the least likely to need an operation to have their appendix removed

For the latest study, researchers looked at 425 participants who were mostly in their 30s between May 2016 and February 2020.

They were recruited from 25 medical centers across the United States and were asked to complete surveys before being prescribed antibiotics.

They were divided into three groups: those who thought the antibiotics wouldn’t work, those who thought they might help, and those who thought they would be completely effective.

The groups were then followed for 30 days.

WHAT IS A PLACEBO?

A placebo is anything that looks like a “real” medical treatment but isn’t, whether it’s a sugar pill or a saline injection.

What all placebos have in common is that they do not contain an active substance that improves a person’s health.

Placebos are used in studies to help scientists understand the effect of a new treatment on a given condition.

For example, in a study of a cholesterol-lowering drug, some were given a placebo—often unknowingly—to compare the drug to the sugar pill.

This allows them to check the effectiveness of the treatment and any side effects.

A placebo effect occurs when a person gets better or experiences side effects after taking nothing more than a sugar pill.

Studies show that placebos can relieve depression, pain, insomnia, and IBS.

How placebos work is unclear, but it is thought to be related to the relationship between body and mind.

Some claim it’s all in the mind, but other studies show measurable physical changes after taking a placebo, such as an increase in hormones that alleviate depression.

The results showed that those who believed antibiotics would cure their disease were 13% less likely to undergo surgery.

In their group, 15 out of 111 adults (14%) had surgery.

By comparison, of those who had no faith in the drug, 24 out of 92 (27%) underwent the surgery.

The paper also found that believing in antibiotics made it 15% more likely that lingering symptoms – such as stomach pain – would subside.

And they were six percent more likely to be satisfied with their treatment.

Dr David Flum, a surgeon at the University of Washington who led the paper, argued that this could be because antibiotic addicts were more likely to stick with pop pills at the right time.

He also suggested that belief in the drug could reduce the risk of them feeling pain and reporting it to doctors.

In turn, this affects a clinician’s decision whether an operation is necessary.

“Pain experience and reporting has already been shown to be associated with patient beliefs and expectations,” he wrote in the paper.

“Participants’ reports of worsening pain may very well have motivated the decision to have surgery.”

The scientists said their study included very few people who strongly believed that antibiotics didn’t work.

Their paper – published in JAMA Surgery – was based on the landmark Comparison of Antibiotic Drug Outcomes and Appendectomy (CODA) trial.

Conducted between May 2016 and February 2020, the trial led to the acceptance of antibiotics as first-line treatment for appendicitis.

The appendix is ​​a small tube-shaped organ with no known function that is attached to the large intestine.

It is believed to be an evolutionary holdover from when mankind’s ancestors survived on much more plant material, such as bark, and may help break it down.

Nowadays, it is most often related to appendicitis, a serious condition characterized by inflammation of the organ due to infection.

It triggers symptoms including constant and persistent pain in the middle of the abdomen making coughing or walking difficult as this can make the pain worse.

Normally, patients would be offered surgery to quickly remove the infected organ, with recovery taking a few weeks. But more and more patients are now being prescribed antibiotics to fight the infection.

About 250,000 Americans are diagnosed with appendicitis each year, according to statistics. It is more common in people between the ages of 20 and 30.

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