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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Take care to understand the nature of medicines you consume




On a sunny morning I had been to my friend’s home to meet him. He is a graduate engineer.  In his house I saw him sneezing, holding a hand kerchief in his hands and all the time rubbing his nose with it. I saw his eyes were red and swollen.  He should have been suffering from common cold I guessed. I asked him whether he had taken any mild medicine for the cold. He said that he had been to a doctor and the doctor had prescribed four tablets and one tonic. I asked him whether the cold is very severe and is there for a more than three days. He said that the trouble started only the previous day and he promptly consulted a senior doctor after waiting in the queue for more than two hours.  He also added that the doctor he consulted is an MD and cure is guaranteed for those who go to him.

I was so eager to see the medicines prescribed because normally I take an analgesic and antipyretic like Paracetamol and may not require anything more to cure the common cold. I have also heard that in developed countries doctors may not even prescribe this but ask the patients to wait for a day or two and they will be alright. 

He showed me his medicine box that carried drugs for five days. There was an antibiotic, an analgesic, a B-complex supplement and one more pill for peptic ulcer. The tonic he referred was an expectorant (Cough syrup). My friend did not know which one is an antibiotic and what is the expected action of the prescribed medicines.  I suggested that he should be aware of the mechanism of treatment with these medicines. Obviously he ignored my suggestion and went ahead to speak about other things continuing his noisy reactions to the common cold.

Ethical doctors will agree that an antibiotic is not required to treat the cold unless it has become very severe and has developed into pneumonia.  But many patients would under- estimate the doctor if he is going to prescribe only paracetamol. Also the greedy doctors have already convinced the public that ’more medicine, quick relief.’ We should understand that unnecessarily consuming antibiotic and even vitamins is harmful in the long run. The reason for high incidence of diabetes and hypertension among Indian population could even be attributed to this culture of consuming unnecessary medicines. But no medical school will get aid to do research in this direction and only very few doctors have the guts to reveal the facts even if they have evidences supporting this assumption.   

There has been great development in health care systems. Mostly the developments are in the field of allopathic medical science. Marvelous equipments have been invented and the uncertainty factor has been drastically reduced helping doctors to choose the right treatments. 

When someone is ill the doctor prescribes medicines. In our country the doctors never explain the mechanism of action of medicines they prescribe. Even if they try, most of the patients do not want to listen to all these but want only quick results. Due to this result- oriented approach many never mind taking combination of numerous medicines. Some patients develop confidence on the doctors based on the number of different types of drugs the doctor prescribes.  However they don’t want to understand the mechanism of each medicine that is being given.

Giving medicines is technically defined as medical intervention.  We must be aware of action of each medicine on our body and mind.

 Medicines that help to relieve pain are called anti-inflammatory. Medicines that help to lower body temperature at times of fever are called antipyretic.  Medicines that kill the disease causing organisms are called antibiotic. There are Vitamins and histamine blockers. These medicines are commonly used for diseases and wounds.  There are greater numbers of other types of medicines that are prescribed to manage chronic deficiencies like diabetes and hypertension.  We cannot choose the medicines that we should take in many severe instances but can understand the mechanism of action of each medicine and keep monitoring the side effects. We can also inform the doctor about the medicines taken in case of reoccurrence of the ailment. Here no doctor except Homeopathy practitioners keep record of patients and naturally no one will go and wait for several hours to get homeopathic remedy for common cold or fever. 

Each medicine has an effect and side effect. For that matter whatever we eat, has effect and side effect.  Every medical intervention generates an action and for every action there has to be a reaction. It is meaningless if they say that Ayurvedic, Siddha and Homeopathy are free from side effects.  The side effect could be different but it will be there. 

If we understand some of the basic fundamental about medicines, many times we can avoid taking them unnecessarily. Medical intervention can do damages to our organs and let us keep this damage as minimum as possible by becoming aware of the medicines we take.

There are only 50 and odd pharmaceutical names that you may be required to remember under all categories and believe me; it is not at all difficult. There could be hundreds of brand names under which a particular medicine is sold. The weight in which they are offered may vary. This you can find by reading the fine print on the foil pack.

Say for instance .
Paracetamol  an analgesic is available in brand names like Crocin, Metacin, Calpol, P-500 and
Dolo650. Crocin,Metacin, Calpol and P-500  are paracetamol 500mg and Dolo has the
medicine weighing 650 mg. 

Likewise you will come to understand the pharmaceutical names and what really is prescribed to you. The only challenge is to read the fine print on the aluminium foil but you will get the skill to do it since this is concerning what you eat.  

So let us not be ignorant of what medicines we take. Since these days people are exploited and where the government administration is very weak, we have to be extra careful.