Self-medication and excessive usage of antibiotics to treat minor illnesses certainly has a negative side to it. The situation becomes more serious, when 11 deaths in a single month are being attributed to this phenomenon.
On Friday, doctors from the allied hospitals of Rawalpindi said that they are finding it increasingly difficult to treat patients with upper and lower respiratory tract infections due to antibiotic resistance, The Express Tribune learnt.
As the dry weather persists, there has been an increase in the number of patients with upper and lower respiratory tract infections.
The data collected from the allied hospitals, including Holy Family Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) and District Headquarters Hospital, said that 34 patients of pneumonia visited the outpatient departments in November, out of whom four died.
Similarly, out of the 23 patients with acute chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 13 were admitted and six died. In addition to that, 17 acute asthma cases were reported in these hospitals, out of whom six were admitted and one died.
But the biggest challenge in all of this, is the antibiotic resistance in patients, which has caused many deaths so far, as proved by their culture and antibiotic sensitivity profile, BBH Medical Registrar Dr Muhammad Haroon said.
The results of the profile also showed that antibiotics given to these patients were ineffective, which may be due to the use of high potency antibiotics earlier. “It leads to resistance to all other antibiotics,” he added.
According to Haroon, the use of high potency antibiotics given by quacks and chemists and through self-medication has made microbes and germs resistant to conventional and high potency drugs.
He said that excessive use of flu medicines last year also raised mutations in viruses such as adenovirus, influenza virus, rhinovirus, H1N1, H5N1 and others.
Haroon said that the prices of anti-flu and respiratory tract medicines have tripled in just one year, making it unaffordable for the common man.
Meanwhile, Rawalpindi Medical College Medicine Department Head Dr Shoaib Shafi said that antibiotic resistance is becoming increasingly common among patients, which results in several complications and deaths in some cases. “Instead of visiting doctors, patients prefer to get antibiotics without prescriptions in many cases. They only visit doctors when these medicines become ineffective, but it is too late by that time,” he added.
He explained that there is a need to medically examine the patient before prescribing any antibiotic but unfortunately this practice is not common in Pakistan.
“It is not necessary to treat all kinds of flues with antibiotics but many physicians are unaware about this face,” he said.
Dispelling the “commonly held notion”, Shifa International Hospital Ear Nose and Throat Consultant Dr Badarus Salam said, “People believe that every kind of flu can be treated with antibiotics whereas in reality, 90 per cent of flues are caused by a virus and not by bacteria.”
According to Salam, light medicines should be taken at the beginning of flu and a general physician or ENT specialist should be consulted if it continues for 48 hours.
“People also believe that a single dose of antibiotics will cure their disease but actually it only hinders the activities of bacteria. Once an antibiotics course is started, it should be completed by taking proper doses at proper times,” Salam added.
(Read: Life of pain - In K-P, cases of self-medication on the rise due to poverty)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2011.
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