Indians are very much fond of giving advice. Whatever the symptom, relatives will come up with a home remedy or worse, a prescription. Medicines are often popped in this ecosystem without consultation with any health practitioner.
Doctors say self-diagnosis is the other name of danger. Imagine taking medicine of acidity for chest pain. You may feel it is just acidity but could be a symptom of cardiovascular disease. Disregarding the problem could mean welcoming life-threatening ailments.
Dr. Vaishali Verma, diabetes educator and dietitian says "Medicine may have side effects rather than providing relief. People have the tendency to Google everything and come to a diagnosis on their own. This is not safe and it can cause life threatening issues therefore it is very important to consult a specialist before consuming any medicine, as they know the problem well and can find the correct diagnosis."
"Over the counter medication can be dangerous at times. All medicine have safety dosage, and if taken in larger doses without proper advice, it can cause serious complication depending on the medication consumed." she adds.
Dolo 650, a type of paracetamol tablet used for treating fever, was the most widely consumed medicine amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. According to IQVIA 3.5 billion tablets of Paracetamol- Dolo 650 have been sold since the pandemic started in 2020. Do you know how tall it can be if it's stacked up in layers? It is even 6,000 times higher than Mount Everest.
Dr Amrit Kalsi, practising homoeopathy and chief medical officer with Delhi Government, Department of Ayush says, "One has to consume Dolo- 650 with a gap of 6 hours. Consuming them before this period can be toxic."
Two other medicines were used in the pandemic along with Dolo-650 - blood thinners and steroids during the surge of coronavirus. “Medicines are drugs that if taken without guidance can harm the body besides treating," says Dr Amrit.
According to experts, covid infection increases the rate of blood clotting in the various parts of the body. To prevent such a condition, many patients were advised to consume blood thinners and steroids by doctors. However, some people started self-prescribing these medicines which can be dangerous.
“There are a variety of medicines present in the market for one problem. For example, there are different types of blood thinners but which one is suitable for you only a doctor can explain. Even steroids can also be given after a certain level of treatment and the stage of the disease. One of the practical reasons for black and yellow fungus spreading in the second wave could be an extra dose of steroids. Therefore self-treatment is not advisable in any case.'' says Dr Amrit.
People generally collect sleeping pills, digestive tablets, antacids, homoeopathy, ayurvedic ready to use remedies in medicine boxes at home. So whenever you munch on them without the right medical knowledge or lose track of the dosage. It can harm your kidneys, lungs, and liver.
Dr Amrit says, “Taking a limited dose or leaving the treatment in between is not beneficial. A less dose will possibly not heal properly and timely. On the other hand, an overdose can be life-threatening, it can harm your organs and can possess chronic health issues.”
While self-diagnosing, we try to identify the problem from symptoms we can feel, but only qualified health practitioners can understand the root cause. The right medicine does not involve just the ailment, but also the intensity of illnesses, side effects, health status and comorbidities which only a practising health expert can understand.
An overdose of antacids can affect the small intestine that will not be able to absorb nutrients making the body weak. According to an article by John Hopkins University, too many painkillers can damage your kidneys and can give you heart attacks. Moreover, an overdose of blood thinners can trouble your respiratory systems and lead to bleeding through urine.
Other than self-medication, people have found a convenient way of finding medicine by consulting a pharmacist. “Blind trust in chemists without a doctor's prescription is not safe. A Pharmacist may know the salts or ingredients of the medicine widely but only a doctor studies the effects and uses of the medicine." she says.
While advising, Dr Vaishali mentions, "It is important that patients or caregivers do not freak out and find their own treatment. Instead, they should get prescribe treatment with patience and a positive mindset."
The advice of self remedies may not likely stop, but it is up to us to refrain from and educate others on the dangers of self-diagnosis.