of the pandemic, a disease burden that Covid did not cause | Gurgaon News

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Gurgaon: Not all Covid side effects were from the viral infection.
A 45-year-old employee of a marketing company showed flu symptoms – cold, cough and sore throat – four times after the second wave of Covid in April and May 2021. He took no chances, always keeping a course of azithromycin at your fingertips. Twice a day for seven days – each time he strictly stuck to it.
But he didn’t see a doctor. His flu treatment was self-prescribed.
The fourth time, in February, it didn’t work. Amit Kumar (name changed) went to see a doctor at the OPD of a hospital in Gurgaon this time. After tests, he was diagnosed with typhoid, and the urine culture report explained why his self-treatment was ineffective. It showed the presence of bacteria resistant to azithromycin. Kumar also began to experience an irregular heartbeat, a side effect of unregulated azithromycin use.
“I have two children who are not yet eligible for the Covid vaccination, so I didn’t want to take any risks and started taking medicine as soon as a symptom appeared,” said Kumar, who lives in Sector 71, to YOU ​​about his self-medication. . It’s a decision he regrets.
In the two years of the Covid pandemic, the unsupervised use of drugs – already alarmingly widespread – has exploded, according to anecdotal evidence with doctors. There are no large-scale organized studies conducted during this period to document the collective health hazard it presents, but a recently published investigative report by the Government Institute of Medical Sciences (GIMS ), Uttar Pradesh, contained indicative evidence.
The survey of 1,100 respondents in May 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic, found that 25% of respondents had taken medication without consulting a doctor. Of these, nearly 60% admitted to self-medicating for the first time. The raging anxieties caused by the pandemic were clearly a trigger. A concomitant finding of the survey was that nearly 45% of those polled admitted to feeling paranoid about becoming seriously ill.
The fear of catching the Covid in a hospital was no less contributory. “The pandemic has added another dimension to the reasons for self-medication – fear of going to hospitals. This has led many people to self-medicate and its after-effects are still visible,” said Dr. Arun Gupta, Chairman of Delhi Medical Council.
Doctors fear that the burden of ‘self-inflicted’ diseases has increased dramatically over the past two years and will manifest itself over the next few months as people who used to avoid going to clinics begin to do so with the pandemic showing signs of endemicity in India, allowing the removal of restrictions and a trot towards pre-Covid normalcy.
In the phases when the pandemic raged, the first months of the first wave and the murderous months of the second, the prescriptions landed on the phone as WhatsApp transmitted, just like a joke or a meme. “Forwarded multiple times” should have been a warning. Instead, it was seen as validation of credibility, carrying the same mystifying hypnotism of apocryphal forwards and sheer misinformation that confuses the logical mind.
A banker (37) who tested positive for Covid during the second wave last May says she took medication suggested by a friend, who sent her a prescription on WhatsApp. “The message contained a list of medications such as paracetamol, zinc, anti-allergics, antibiotics and steroids. Seeing a doctor was out of the question, so I decided to follow this list. I mean, a lot of people at the time thought that was a better way to deal with Covid. I avoided steroids but took all other meds for more than 15 days as I didn’t feel energetic. I now suffer from gastritis and the doctors told me that certain drug abuse could be the cause,” she said.
Last October, a 56-year-old businessman was taking steroids without seeing a doctor when he suffered from respiratory distress. He assumed it was Covid. Today he is diabetic, has weak limbs and suffers from insomnia.
“I took dexamethasone,” he told TOI. “It was easy to get. My brother had Covid. He had the same respiratory distress. So I took the medicine that the doctor had prescribed for her. Initially, I was fine. Things started going south in February. I couldn’t sleep and was losing weight. When I started having difficulty walking, I decided to see a doctor,” the Sector 23 resident said, adding, in his defense, “I was just taking precautions.”
A fitness trainer (33) with a history of migraine has seen an acute manifestation of the problem in phases over the past two years. She treated it with her usual painkillers but didn’t go to the doctor when it didn’t stop. Instead, she continued to take painkillers, sometimes for 10-12 days at a time. She recently went to the OPD of a hospital, not with a migraine but severe pain in her upper abdomen. An endoscopy detected a gastric ulcer. Doctors said it was probably due to excessive consumption of painkillers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-medication (SM) as the selection and use of medications to treat self-recognized symptoms or conditions without consulting a physician. It also includes the use or reuse of previously prescribed or unused medication, the direct purchase of prescription medication without consultation, and the irrational use of over-the-counter medication.
A study recently published in the journal Drug & Therapy Perspectives SM by Dr. Ali Ahmed and a team of other researchers indicates that the most commonly prescribed medications are analgesics (pain relievers), antipyretics (fever medications), cough suppressants (drugs to suppress cough). ), antidiarrheals, calcium and vitamin supplements, anabolic steroids, sedatives, some antibiotics, and many herbal and homeopathic remedies.
“We are seeing more drug-resistant bacterial infections like typhoid as well as urinary tract infections. We observed that the pain tolerance threshold also decreased,” said Dr. Amitabha Ghosh, Consultant (Internal Medicine) at Manipal Hospitals.
Even if self-medication, and by extension self-diagnosis, does not create health complications in itself, it can still be dangerous. For example, a person may have symptoms of cardiovascular disease, but could be taking antacids for chest pain, which would be life-threatening.
“Severe disease can progress if patients try to suppress it by taking painkillers. Painkillers do not treat a disease, they simply suppress pain, creating an unresolved chronic disease. There are people who took steroids during Covid on their own for respiratory distress. People also continue to self-medicate for anxiety. These drugs cause slowness of mind, drowsiness and lack of concentration. We see such patients. We counsel them and put them on a withdrawal diet before starting the appropriate treatment,” said Dr. Praveen Gupta, Director and Head (Neurology) of Fortis Memorial Research Institute.
Experts have also said that the misguided use of antibiotics, blood thinners and steroids are major contributors to serious problems such as secondary bacterial or fungal infections. “There have been cases where deviations from certain parameters favored the use of irrational drugs in apparently recovering patients. There has been an increase in such cases as many people have lost loved ones leading to sadness and depression. Working from home and losing jobs has also created anxiety and stress,” said Dr. Rajiva Gupta from the Department of Internal Medicine at CK Birla Hospital.
The health department said it is aware of these cases and is taking corrective action. In Gurgaon, chemists face a crackdown for selling over-the-counter antibiotics and steroids. “We have notified the Department of Food and Drugs to take action against pharmacists who sell antibiotics and steroids without a prescription. These are not over-the-counter drugs,” said chief medical officer Dr Virender Yadav.
Dr. Dhruv Chaudhary, Nodal Officer for Covid-19 in Haryana and Head of Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at PGIMS, Rohtak pointed out that drug abuse has led to an increase in drug-resistant bacterial infections among patients. “Drug abuse is associated with kidney failure in many cases. Drugs like paracetamol and azithromycin have been abused by people and therefore end up interfering with vital organs. We become the core of drug-resistant bacterial infections. medications.
(Additional report by Abhijeet Singh)


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