Premature discontinuation of drugs may have adverse effects

Friday November 08 2019

Jonathan Lukabya, a teacher, suffered from Malaria. He had a fever, body weakness and pain in the joints and after diagnosis, the doctor prescribed for him some medication which he had to take for a whole week.
However, Lukabya says: “I took the tablets for about three days and when I felt better, I stopped taking medicine. The medicine made me feel weak yet I had to go and work.”
After some time, he had a relapse of malaria and this time he was hospitalised for more than a month. “After two weeks, I got similar symptoms and when I went to the doctor, he diagnosed me with the same disease and this time, it was acute. My body had built resistance to the first medication and the doctor prescribed a stronger drug. For the whole month, I stayed in hospital on just malaria treatment.”
When we fall sick, it is important that we go to hospital and get the proper diagnosis to identify the actual illness. Proper diagnosis ensures that one will get the right medication they need. The doctors often prescribe the dosage you will need depending on your age, weight and how long you have suffered the symptoms of the disease.
However, when some people feel better after taking some of the medication, they do not complete the dose.

Why it is important
Dr Charity Asaba says many people are victims of resistance to medicine because they feel better after taking a part of the dose that may have been prescribed for them.
“Failing to complete a dose is dangerous because in case someone is on antibiotics, for instance, stopping medication before the prescribed time gives the bacteria the potential to grow again,” Dr Asaba emphasises.
She adds: “Although one may feel better before the prescription is finished, stopping the antibiotics midway gives the bacteria the ability to grow at a rapid speed. Bacteria are more likely to multiply and make you feel worse after sometime.”
According to Dr Asaba, the habit in the long run makes bodies resistant to some medicine and the next time one falls sick of a similar illness, it becomes even harder to get the right treatment. The only option will be to prescribe a stronger and more expensive dose to cure the illness.
“Such a person needs a second line of the medicine since the first line failed. The second line drugs are usually stronger and more expensive. The time spent in hospital may be longer,” she says.
She adds: “If you do not take the medicine as prescribed, then the bacteria might affect some organs in the body, which can be deadly.”
“Stopping your medication midway makes disease-causing germs in the body resistant and may lead to other health complications. This may cause delayed response to medication and the infection may get worse,” says Dr Asaba.

Many patients hardly complete their doses because thye are frightened of potential side effects. After witnessing side effects experienced by other people who suffered from a similar disease, many freak out from finishing medication
Some patients do not have enough money to buy complete doses. Others may not understand the need for the medicine, the nature of the side effects or the time it will take to see results.

Tips to help you
Take your medication at the same time everyday. Before choosing mealtime for your routine, check if your medication should be taken on a full or empty stomach.
Keep a medicine calendar with your pill bottles and note each time you take a dose.
Set an alarm to remind you to take drugs at a given time