She was a young healthy educated woman who had come for follow up after finishing 2 weeks of medicine. There were no symptoms at the moment, results of all tests were normal, yet she demanded a prescription for drugs.
I tried to explain to her that since she is O.K. now, she does not need any medicine. But this young lady was not convinced. “I was so sick doctor, how can I go without medicines?”
She was among the many people who do not realize that drugs can be harmful if taken unnecessarily and for long time.
Drugs are chemicals or substances used with the intention of providing relief or cure in some kind of health problem.
Different drugs act by different mechanisms in the body to bring about the desired relief. But along with the desired effect they also produce some unpleasant or harmful effects in the body, known as adverse effects.
Some adverse effects are predictable. Like anybody using pain killers like ibuprofen or aspirin will definitely get mild or severe gastritis.
Some secondary effects are unpredictable, i.e. it cannot be said whether an individual will have it or not. For example Penicillin or Bactrim are known to cause life threatening allergic reactions.
But who will get it is difficult to say, unless the person using it develops the reaction.
Pain killers are notorious for gastritis and can cause kidney failure in long run.
All antibiotics can cause secondary fungal infection, thus creating more problems than the one for which a person sought treatment.
Many drugs like sulphur drugs, antiretroviral drug like Zidovudine, e.t.c. ( it is a long list of drugs), can cause anemia.
All the different drugs used to treat hypertension have different side effects. For example propranolol or atenolol is known to cause sexual impotence, nifedipine at times causes severe headache and worsening of cardiac failure.
Similarly drugs used for diabetes, cardiac problems, also have undesirable side effects in body.
Drugs used for gastritis like cimetidine, omeprazole, e.t.c. when taken for a long time suppress the production of gastric acid to the extent that it makes the stomach more prone to gastric cancer. Corticosteroids reduce the immunity of the body.
Even vitamin supplements are known to produce allergies and toxicity. One can write a full volume on adverse effects because there are many more adverse effects than the drugs existing.
These may be major or minor. Therefore it is mandatory for pharmaceuticals to mention the undesirable effects along with other information regarding the drug.
It is not only the known allopathic drugs, but drugs used for alternate medicine also produce adverse effects, which are different .
Apart from these, there are many unknown indigenous treatments taken by people.
Many people suffering from chronic problems like arthritis, asthma, tend to use these medicines in the hope of getting cure but they land up having toxicity of the liver and or kidney .
As when a stone thrown in water, howsoever small, creates ruffles, so is the case with drugs. Each and every drug after entering the body produces adverse effects along with main pharmacological action.
Best course to avoid these unpleasant effects is to avoid the medicines. Every healthy person is able to tolerate small pain, nausea or any problem.
Therefore in case of small ailments it is better to find the cause and get that treated instead of taking medicines.
Chronic problems like bronchial asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, are best managed by non pharmacological therapy, i.e. by exercises, fomentation. Medicines should be used only when one cannot do without it.
But it becomes necessary to take regular medicine in conditions like diabetes, hypertension, e.t.c. for good control.
In these one has to be aware about the medicine he or she takes and the likely side effects. Educated persons should read all information about the prescribed drug.
Previously known side effects or drug allergy should be reported to the doctor. In case of side effects developing, the doctor should be informed so that medicine can be changed or dose reduced.
A prudent person takes medicines for improvement of health but not to suffer from side effects.
The author is a Specialist in Internal medicine
E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org