Zero MD, East Bajac Bajac Health Center – I have, for a very long time, heard this term “pasma” frequently from old doctors. I do not try and correct them. It’s their style and it works. And until recently, I have learned that some actually teach them to new students of medicine. “Wag nyu po paliguan yung bata baka mapasma,” mused one newly graduate. (Translation: Don’t bathe the child, he might have ‘pasma.’) Its nice to know Filipino folk beliefs but they need to die a very fast death.
We are now living in the new millenium with fast-paced technology giving us access to a wealth of information. The trend is evidence-based medicine. Cold water or cold air cannot by itself cause sickness. Some doctors teach that cold temperatures decreases the activity of the immune systems. This may only be true in extreme temperatures but cold water from the fridge or cold air from the aircon cannot produce sickness on their own. Infection causes sickness. You can get infection from a virulent organism such as a virus, protozoan, or bacteria from another person, environment or a vector. This is infectious disease 101.
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The only reason the child suddenly has a fever after taking a bath is due to the fact that it is easier to perceive febrile skin after it becomes cool due to evaporated water. Water or in simple chemical terms, H2O, is a simple molecule that is very important to our well-being. Please do not restrict your patients from it (with exception to renal cases where water intake is closely monitored).
Only recently, a patient of mine, 16 year-old female was attributing his illness to increased perspiration of the legs. She ascribed ‘pasma’ as the leading cause of her ailments: principally cough, coryza and fever. They abhorred my explanation that pasma is nonexistent and that she has an Acute Nasopharyngitis probably due to a bacterial infection. They took my prescription but was not impressed with me.
This has to stop. Please stop using pasma and agreeing with patients regarding this folklore. The rest of the medical world is moving ahead and disregarding the ‘pasma’ explanation. There is no such thing. If you are one of the Filipino doctors who believe in it, either you put up an evidence for all the world to see or shut up because you are doing more harm than good. Sure, the patient will be impressed with you but you are making idiots out of your patient. Let me emphasize, Doctor in latin means to teach. Don’t teach stuff that is not worth its weight in gold.