When 'playing doctor' is more than just a children's game

He had a fever so his mother kept giving him pills. He should have been alive today, if only a doctor was consulted.

Kulsoom Inam August 25, 2013
Pakistanis are known as the most versatile people on the planet. Each person thinks they have it all covered; they have enough knowledge to handle all the tasks like a pro. However, what really gets on my nerves the most is our well-read (not) fellow countrymen’s ability to diagnose a disease and prescribe the best totka or medicine to combat ‘that disease’.

For me, it all began when I started getting fever every evening. Initially, I did not give it much thought but when I started losing weight gradually, some acquaintances decided to begin their diagnostic practices on me. Measles, viral fever, malaria, iodine deficiency etc. were on the list of detected diseases — after my case was studied, of course. Apparently, just detection wasn't enough, so they also forced me to take the drugs they recommended for these ailments.

Eventually, I consulted a real doctor who ran some tests that revealed that I had typhoid - not measles or dengue as some of my well wishers vehemently believed I had. The day my relatives found out about my illness, the phone was bombarded with phone calls and I got tired of scribbling down the most bizarre herbal or desi totkay.

One of my relatives went as far as to advise me to shave my head to prevent hair loss after typhoid!

While these peculiar home remedies were annoying and irritating, the efforts my family made actually showed how much they cared about me — and I did eventually realise this, however, I don't know if they and many like them understand that sometimes self-medication can be fatal.

My 24-year-old cousin was falling sick every other day and his mother started giving him pills for fever, instead of sending him to a doctor, because popular opinion dictated so. Eventually, we found out that he had measles.

It is common knowledge that there is no medical cure for measles; the illness takes its own time to subside and medicine only worsens the case. That’s exactly what happened to him. After a few days, he had a really bad headache. His mother gave him a painkiller and just as he swallowed it, he fainted. He was rushed to the hospital. Doctors ran some tests on him and found that his brain had been badly damaged, and within two days he had succumbed to his ailment.

People should remember that self-medication can be very dangerous. One should consult a professional doctor when the need arises. That is the only proper and quickest route to recovery since this is what doctors are trained to do.

Kulsoom Inam
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Insaan | 10 years ago | Reply @SomeOne: Measles+ Aspirin(or other pain killer like paracetamol)= deathly outcome! :/ Aspirin and paracetamol belong to 2 different classes of drugs. Avoid Medications Containing Aspirin during Measles. (Acetylsalicylate) and Aspirin-Like Products http://www.reyessyndrome.org/pdfs/medicationscontainingaspirin.pdf Paracetamol is sold as Tylenol in many countries. It does not cause same problem as Aspirin but is actually recommended for fever treatment during measles. Paracetamol (Tylenol) can be bad for liver if taken more then recommended doses. Best thing is go to the doctor.
Hina | 10 years ago | Reply @Insaan: Wikipedia??? Seems the article did not influence you in the right direction
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ