Stop Offering Me Your Unsolicited Medical Advice

“Have you tried…?” and other things people with chronic conditions are tired of hearing.

Casira Copes


Photo by Monstera from Pexels

I have chronic conditions and comorbidities. It’s a hard thing for me to talk about. It has a name, but I struggle to say it. And to be honest, to further prove the point of this article and avoid the very thing I’m denouncing in the comments, I won’t be specifying what my condition is.

Here are the things worth knowing:

  1. I’ve been dealing with it since I was about 9-years-old.
  2. It comes and goes intermittently.
  3. When it flares up it’s painful. Sometimes I have trouble walking and doing daily activities because of it.
  4. There’s no cure for it.

In light of these factors, there have been many times when, dealing with the symptoms and side effects, I’ve had to explain to people that I have a condition. Whether that’s because I can’t go somewhere or do something I usually do, or because I’m just in a particular amount of pain on any given day and opt to share that when someone asks, “How are you doing?”

Inevitably, within a matter of minutes, they will come forward with: “Have you tried…?”

It’s an awkward, if not outright irritating, situation. I try to smile my way through a lot of people’s unsolicited medical advice — developed after a few minutes worth of Googling and misremembering some unrelated medical condition their friend’s friend had. People never seem so insistent to me as they do when recommending I change my diet (whether they know anything about my existing diet or not). Why do so many people want to play doctor as soon as they learn about someone else’s illness?

I know the answer, at least in part. Our culture has a rampant problem of moralizing health and wellness. We all like to assume that we have more control over our well-being than is often the case. When we hear people are suffering from something health-related, a small voice inside says, “They must be doing something wrong.” Eating wrong. Exercising wrong. Whatever it is, it can be resolved if they just did things the right way.

Why do so many people want to play…