Thursday, December 8, 2022

Understand your medications! (Part 1)

The medical fraternity is battling with resistance patterns seen with various medications that are only available through prescription. You and I play a big role in this.

I think you know that we don’t normally take our medications well. We usually stop when symptoms get better. But is it ok to do that?

It’s not all medications that need to be finished though. Sometimes you can have a light but disturbing headache and you may want to silence it with one or two good painkillers so that you get back to work.

It usually works for many people!

But you cant do this with antibiotics and most medications for chronic diseases like tuberculosis (TB), HIV, high blood pressure, epilepsy, diabetes etc.

What’s the real story with pain killers?

I think painkillers are the most accessible drugs in the market. You can even get them from the tuck-shop for a very small fee! Health professionals prescribe painkillers mainly for three reasons: to kill pain, to fight fever and to stop the tissue reaction (inflammation) that comes with injury. Depending on the severity of the pain or injury, the doctor will always specify the desired duration of treatment. It is usually 5 ÔÇô 7 days but may be longer, especially for severe injuries and painful conditions such arthritis and cancerous lesions.

If it is minor injury one can usually stop taking them when the pain disappears. Most painkillers require that you take them after food, and with a good volume of water to ease dissolution and prevent stomach irritation and ulcers. Many people who abuse painkillers develop peptic ulcers and irritation of the stomach. So be careful not to abuse painkillers!

What about
antibiotics?

Modern medicine would not save many lives if antibiotics did not exist. The proper use of antibiotics will continue saving lives for decades, but misuse and abuse will deny modern doctor’s chances to save lives in this world. Antibiotics are used by doctors to fight disease causing organisms; usually termed bacteria. These are small living organisms, too tiny to be seen with a naked eye and can be responsible for severe infections of the brain, lungs, intestines, mouth, throat, and skin or just any organ in the body.

If the course of these medications is not completed, these living creatures get chance to study them and will somehow manage to outsmart them. That is what medics call resistance!

Resistance is already showing for throat and chest infections, urine infections and skin infections and all these are as a result of poor compliance to medicines ÔÇô taking a few pills, stopping when we get better, shelving them and starting the cycle again some day when another chest infection strikes. This is worrisome!

The worst case is of Multi drug resistant TB that we are already battling with in our country that also developed because of treatment default or poor compliance.

I believe you have heard of the XDR strain that is more stubborn than the former, and still arose because of poor compliance.

So we need to know and understand antibiotics. If you have a busy schedule, find out from your doctor what can be most convenient for you. It starts with you and I to save this world by taking these medications as advised!

Make sure you complete the course of any antibiotic that is prescribed for you. You can only stop if your body reacts to the drug but you should inform you doctor when this occurs.

Anything to know about chronic infections?

HIV is one of them, but as you know it’s infectious. The ARV medicines are used to suppress the multiplication of HIV, but like creatures mentioned above, it can outsmart your ARVs if you don’t take them properly, leading to treatment failure. It’s quite common and the cause is usually the same ÔÇô NOT TAKING ARV’s AS ADVICED!

Resistant strains of the virus can be difficult to deal with and may be responsible for deterioration of your health. It’s vital to communicate with your healthcare providers. If you still need more counseling, inform them so that they help you to accept your status, understand the need for ARVs and how to live with the disease. We need to prevent resistance of these medications because we still do not have cure for HIV. The best thing to start with is to accept your status and understand the disease and defeat it, because obviously you can!

If you or your family member is diagnosed with TB of the lungs or of any organ in the body, it’s important to know that the shortest time you can take on treatment is 6 (six) months. It can be longer, depending on location.
Get well…

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