Common illnesses include diabetes, stroke, hepatitis B, hypertension,
tuberculosis, and cancers of the upper GI tract, lung, liver,
and nasopharynx. There is a higher incidence of thalassemia
and G-6-PD deficiency, a condition in which the lack of an
enzyme results in anemia. Up to 65% of men from China smoke.
Some illnesses may be considered shameful (i.e., HIV, sexually
transmitted diseases); in some cases, medical care may not
be sought. Immunization of children is accepted.
Using herbal remedies (often brewed as tea), acupressure,
acupuncture and conferring with a medium or spiritualist are
acceptable traditional treatments.
Depending on their exposure to Western medicine, some Chinese
may be fearful of hospitals, surgery and needles. On the other
hand, a medication given by injection may be considered by
some more potent and effective, and may be preferred over
oral medication. Western medicine may be used only when traditional
remedies have failed or for severe symptoms. This may lead
to late diagnosis and use of the emergency room.
Treatment decisions may be made by the family. unit. Chinese
patients may have a low tolerance for tests, as they may expect
medical professionals, being expert, to be able to give treatment
immediately. Blood tests may be avoided as they allow the
“Chi” (the essence of one’s body energy) to leak out.
may believe symptoms should be relieved promptly by medication,
and that an illness is cured if its symptoms go away. The
concept of health maintenance may not be appreciated.
Some patients may use both an American physician and a Chinese
traditional practitioner simultaneously. It is important to
ask what other Chinese herbal medicines the patient is using
to avoid drug interactions and adverse reactions. Patients
may require education on drug/herb interactions.
Mental illness is not recognized; the Chinese fear stigma
from their community. Problems like stress and anxiety may
be considered affecting a person who is weak. Depression may
occur, related to low income or separation from relatives
in their homeland. Because “saving face” and privacy is so
valued, personal problems and sexuality may not be discussed
with health care providers.
concept of “Yin” and “Yang” is a dynamic system where opposing
energy forces need to be balanced for harmony. Illness may
be attributed to an imbalance in Yin (a cold force) and Yang
(a hot force), a curse by an offended spirit or a punishment
for some previous behavior. Wearing layers of clothes to keep
warm may also be done. Jade may be worn for good luck or to
ward off bad spirits. Red is considered to be a lucky color.