A few days ago, I got a call from a friend asking if he could get advice on Covid-19. He said his test came back positive. He had no symptoms but took a drug combo that an internet article suggested to prevent coronavirus deaths. Upon further investigation, I realized that he was consuming antibiotics, antiviral herbs, vitamins, etc. I asked him to stop these drugs and to see a doctor if he developed any symptoms. This incident led me to question the practice of self-medication in which patients currently engage.
the World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-medication as the use of drugs as intermittent or continuous use for self-diagnosed disorders, chronic or recurring illnesses and symptoms. The pandemic has raised serious concerns among the public about the disease and its treatment. To date, there is no proven treatment for Covid-19. In such a scenario, the possible treatment options are used by healthcare professionals on the basis of their clinical judgment and research conducted worldwide.
Some people rely on herbal remedies and herbs for the prevention of Covid -19 and believe that they will protect them from infection and deadly disease. The idea behind using herbal remedies for Covid -19 is not inherently bad, and there are some drugs that might be helpful against infection and disease. After all, a lot of the drugs we use today were originally extracted from plants. If we consider this, some herbs could be useful against the disease and the findings could help end the pandemic.
At the same time, we must also consider the random use of herbal remedies. For example, salicylic acid from the shrub genus Spiraea has been extracted to make aspirin, a drug used for several diseases. This does not mean that it can be used for any condition. It is also associated with many side effects. When a person is prescribed aspirin, the doctor should consider the disease the patient is suffering from and any harm that may arise, and then prescribe it or switch to another medication.
Likewise, an herb that made me feel better when I caught a cold last year or had diarrhea a few years ago doesn’t necessarily help me against Covid-19 and potentially could. cause more harm than good. Currently, there have been no proven herbal medicines that help treat the coronavirus.. Numerous studies are in the process of researching herbal remedies, but encouraging results are not yet available. Eating a plant may seem harmless, but it can lead to deleterious effects, especially when no one knows what it is doing to the body. Overuse of certain herbal remedies worsens the problem and made people so sick that they had to be hospitalized during the pandemic due to the toxic effects of the remedy itself.
Other people copy the prescription written for a specific patient and pass it on to others with different exposure and disease histories. It was very popular, especially during the first wave. Some local authorities have reportedly compiled a list of medications that everyone should take in isolation, including antibiotics. Two people infected with the virus could have different results. One may not even notice the infection, and the other may become so sick that they must be hospitalized and given oxygen and extra medicine through their veins. Should the first person be given medication through their veins because the second person received the same medication? Of course not.
The use of vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc has increased significantly from last year in the belief that these drugs prevent infection while there is no proven data to date. The use of paracetamol for self-diagnosed fever is justified and is also recommended by the WHO, but the use of prescription drugs like antibiotics, hydroxychloroquine and steroids should only be based on a doctor’s prescription. These drugs have no preventive role in Covid-19 and can cause side effects if misused.
Previous research has found dexamethasone useful in the treatment of severe Covid-19, but researchers have suggested its use only in patients with hypoxia. It is not recommended to use it yourself in mild to moderate cases due to its inherent safety concerns. Staying up to date on treatment for illnesses is certainly a good thing, but relying on your own judgment to treat illnesses can lead to complications, so you should always see a doctor about treatment for Covid-19.
In Nepal, although the sale and distribution of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances require a prescription; other medicines, including antibiotics, can be bought without a prescription. This has led to the irrational use of antibiotics, a major cause of antimicrobial resistance. Strict regulation of prescription drugs is a necessity. Health facilities, in particular consultation with health professionals, should be facilitated to discourage self-medication.
The media should be encouraged to educate the public about the rational use of prescription drugs and the safety concerns that they are used irrationally. The government should watch out for false or misleading advertisements that promote self-medication. People themselves should be more responsible when sharing information on social media. Let us unite and fight this pandemic by avoiding self-medication practices.