On Self Medication | Fight COVID19 with scientific temperament

Representational Image [Source: Sabine van Erp from Pixabay]
Representational Image [Source: Sabine van Erp from Pixabay]

Everyone this summer, much to their disappointment, have found themselves languishing indoors with despair, distraught and unsettling exhaustion because of the ravaging second wave of COVID19 that has sadly claimed many lives and doesn't seem to show any sign of fatigue.

Amidst all this, sitting in a heavily rushed medical store in the suburbs of our Srinagar city, I witnessed some 'gospel self cure miracle'. I am talking about a miraculous use of a series of drugs that were being religiously followed, demanded and consumed by tens and hundreds if not thousands who managed to visit the medical store, during that hour.

Gh Mohiudin had contracted COVID19 some time back and pertinently had got better in a week or so because of self medicating himself with a series of Antibiotics, antiviral and other antimicrobial drugs. Like everything these days, the miraculous self medicated drug lists leaked through nears and dears onto neighbors, acquaintances, followed to community and other neighboring villages. This drug list was infamously called now as 'Mudd kak'un Nuskha'.

Seemingly many diagnosed with COVID19 and unwilling to attend to any hospital facility were advised by everyone to consume this cocktail of antimicrobials.

Ever since the second COVID19 wave began, these trends of self medication have now become a daily occurrence. Men, women, children, people with co morbidity, diabetics, CKD, hypertensive patients have started consuming self medicated drugs and the cacophony of this inappropriate and irrational use of drugs is spreading like wildfire to every corner of our community. The practice, worryingly, ends up creating what medical practitioners call "superbugs". The person now turns into highly resistant and completely a different being.

People consume over the counter (OTC) drugs that include high doses of antibiotics, steroids, unabated multi vitamins and cough syrup like normal routine drinks. Add to these now, drugs like Remidisvir, Fabiflu, Toclixumab are being consumed without medical supervision.

The fact that this phenomenon exists and is much prevalent nowadays must make us all ponder where our society is heading towards. Although we are reluctant to accept it, choose not to see it probably because of the situation we are going through where our health care is facing an existential crisis.

So how does one explain this curious, irrational and terrifying negligence in plain sight? This is Self medication of highest order and greatest irony. Perhaps it's simple. Everyone doesn't seem to seek professional medical consultation on a timely basis and try to cope and adapt to this illness. But more often than not ends up self medicating himself or using OTC without prescription.

Data suggests that medicines related to problems like headache, gastro-intestinal issues, skin rash, kidney disease can be as high as 41 percent in patients who self-medicate. Clinical experiences and documented evidence attribute self-medication as one of the possible causes of kidney damage leading to kidney failure. (Et Health World)

Some potential risks highlighted by journal of clinical pharmacy included

-Incorrect self-diagnosis

-Failure to seek appropriate medical advice promptly

-Incorrect choice of therapy

-Failure to recognize special pharmacological risks

-Rare but severe adverse effects

-Failure to recognize or self-diagnosis contraindications, interactions, warnings and precautions

-Failure to recognize that the same active substance is already being taken under a different name

-Failure to report current self-medication to the prescribing physician (double medication/harmful interaction)

-Failure to recognize or report adverse drug reactions

-Incorrect route of administration

-Inadequate or excessive dosage

-Excessively prolonged use

-Risk of dependence and abuse

-Food and drug interaction

Apart from developing a community antibiotic resistance, such irresponsible behavior results in creating more superbugs which often don't respond to normal medications for any minor illnesses.

Another issue confronting Kashmir pertains to hoarding of oxygen cylinders at homes and the attitude of "we might get to use it in coming days" are the worse forms of self medication.

One can't use Oxygen Concentrators, nebulizers, pure oxygen therapy without proper medical supervision. It's suicidal at times.

We are fighting an unseen virus and it's been more than a year. The SOPs have been vigorously and widely circulated and surely prioritized on every podium, every media channel, every mobile site so that people get adapted to them and start to live with the virus.

Vaccination is the most important treatment of choice that is now available and surely much better, safer and relevant medical tool to fight this pandemic. In these tough times it's imperative as well essential to seek professional help and stop self-medicating ourselves.

This pandemic needs to be fought with sanity, rationality, relevance, scientific temperament as much as with vaccines and following all SOPs.

Tahir Ahmad is MDS oral  maxillo facial surgery. He can be emailed at t.a.tahir66@gmail.com

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