Say no to self-medication

COVID-19 Health National

A survey of 20,000 people in 10 Indian cities conducted by Lybrate online center shows that 52 percent  of the people in India indulge in self-medication.

By Ishika Dangayach 

Jaipur|| April 14, 2020

Have you been to a pharmacy to purchase non-prescription antibiotics? The reaction will most definitely be a “sure” from most people in our nation. Despite realizing that self- medication can be risky at times, most of us still go for it.                          

Most of the time, self-medication is a trial-and-error operation. Amid the novel coronavirus, some people who have common cold and cough are taking antibiotics without even consulting a doctor. In these cases, a doctor’s prescription is of utmost importance.

Potential dangers of self-medication       

According to the Department of Biological Sciences, National University of La Plata, Argentina, potential dangers of self-medication includes inaccurate self-diagnosis, delays in obtaining professional assistance as required, infrequent but serious adverse effects, harmful drug interactions, inappropriate method of treatment, inaccurate prescription, inappropriate choice of counseling, concealment of a significant illness and possibility of dependency and violence.

COVID-19 and self- medication 

At a news conference Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has worked as the head of the National Center of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 , was asked a question relating to the previous day’s coronavirus press conference where President Trump had talked in favour of hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria    

When asked about the facts in support of hydroxychloroquine being used as a prophylaxis against COVID-19, Dr. Fauci told the conference that the proof was only anecdotal. “The research was not performed in a scientific, monitored experiment. And a conclusive judgment about this specific proof cannot be made,” he said in the conference          .

Recently, a man from Arizona died of COVID-19 and his wife is in severe condition. Both of them had self-medicated with chloroquine phosphate, a drug used to cure worm fish to fend off the novel coronavirus as per a  report by The Guardian.

In the Indian context      

In most areas of India, the idea of self-medication predominates. Age-old experiences move from generation to generation, including mainly traditional medications for fatigue, cough, and abdominal spasmodic discomfort.

Patients indulge in self-medication to save time and resources to visit a doctor for mild symptoms, particularly in those places where public health infrastructure is hard to reach.    

In India, there are a lot of applications where one can write symptoms in various  apps and they can get the name of the medicines to treat the disease. 

Dr. Manohar Lal Gupta, pulmonologist who works in a renowned hospital in Jaipur, said, “Today several online portals and applications have become more popular. Here, the empanelled doctors prescribe treatment depending on the patient’s mentioned symptoms.    

“This is a trend that is increasing. In my opinion, a clinical review is necessary for the diagnosis of a patient and can always be highly vigilant to ensure that other professionals will not profit from such outlets for monetary gains,” Dr. Gupta said. 

WHO on self-medication 

It has been observed that certain western, conventional or home remedies do offer relief and relieve COVID-19 symptoms, but there is no indication that the disease can be avoided or healed by current medication.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) does not suggest self-medication as a treatment or remedy for COVID-19 for any drugs, including antibiotics. There are, however, several ongoing clinical trials involving both western and traditional medicines.

“COVID-19 is a viral infection i.e. it is affected by virus and antibiotics should not be consumed to cure COVID-19. They will solely be used for diagnosing bacterial infection,” said Dr. Ajay Sharma, a general physician. 


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