Some commonly abused drugs and why you should be cautious
Posted Wednesday, March 6 2013 at 02:00
- If you buy medicine without a doctor’s prescription, chances are that you could buy two types of drugs that have the same component. This could lead to overdose
When a headache, constipation, nausea or joint-aches strikes, some people buy drugs over the counter without a prescription by a doctor. It is usually the cheaper option, considering that visiting a doctor may mean paying a consultation fee, laboratory fee and you will still set aside some money for purchasing drugs.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that more than half of all medicines are sold inappropriately and that half of all patients fail to take them correctly. But by avoiding the visit to the doctor, you might end up having a more complicated condition that may cost you more money for treatment.
According to the Kenya Institute of Medical Research head of Malaria Research Dr Simon Kariuki, self-medication may lead to a situation where the patient becomes resistant to certain drugs. “Anti-malarial drugs, for example, when taken without caution cause the body to require stronger drugs when someone is sick with the disease in future,” Dr Kariuki said.
He said doctors usually prescribe malarial drugs depending on the age and weight of the patient. Malaria drugs, just like any other drug, can be harmful to the liver and the kidneys if taken without precaution, he warns.
“Self-medication is the main reason a number of people no longer respond to drugs when attacked my malaria. It is becoming very challenging to the medical profession to treat some ailments because of resistance to drugs,” he added.
Another drug that is highly abused is the one usually indicated for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Professor Peter Mungai, an urologist, located at the Upper Hill Medical Centre, said taking drugs like Viagra could damage the reproductive system and cause dependence.
“When you abuse sex boosting drugs, the body gets used to them, to a point that it cannot function without them. These drugs do not enlarge the penis. They are just indicated for people who are sick and they should not even be sold without prescription,” he said.
Apart from the effects on the reproductive system, the drugs, according to Prof Mungai, can cause heart attack, low blood pressure and hearing impairment. Further, the professor says that doctors usually prescribe the drugs depending on the level of dysfunction.
Men who use the drug when they really don’t need it, may overdose because they did not have a problem in the first place. The most common side effect of using the drug is being dependent on it.
Another drug that is dangerously misused is the antibiotics. Misuse of antibiotics may also cause resistance and in some instances, cause the development of other illnesses, especially those caused by fungi.
The problem with antibiotics is that in the process of killing the disease-causing organisms like bacteria, fungi and virus, they may damage the essential bacteria needed by the body to fight other organisms.
Caution should be taken, especially during pregnancy and by people who have pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, liver disease, asthma, epilepsy and cancers when using antibiotics.
A physician, Gabriel Ogolla, says a visit to the doctor when someone is sick should never be avoided. “Sometimes when you buy drugs at the chemist, they may work on the basic symptoms but they may not cure the disease,” Dr Ogolla said.
He added that doctors usually know which drugs to prescribe for what condition, depending on the history of the disease, the patient’s age and weight. “If you buy medicine without prescription, chances are that you could even buy two types of drugs that have the same component. This could lead to overdose or even poisoning,” he said.