Avoid self-treating with Covid-19 ‘drugs’

Monday July 13 2020

 

By ESTHER OLUKA

There is no vaccine for coronavirus, yet. The world is still anxiously waiting for one. For now, drugs such as dexamethasone and hydroxychloroquine are being tried as treatment options for the virus.

Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid hormone is used to treat conditions such as breathing problems, allergic reactions, immune system disorders and specific cancers, among other illnesses.

Although mainly used in malaria treatment, hydroxychloroquine can also be used in treating rheumatoid disorders including arthritis. Meanwhile, remdesivir is antiviral medication while lopinavir/ritonavir is a dose combination treatment for HIV/Aids.
Trial drug not cure
Dr Alex Kakoraki, a healthcare practitioner at Murchison Bay Hospital, Luzira, says like many other Ugandans, he has heard of different trial drugs being tested in order to find a cure for the coronavirus.
“What people should, however, remember is that a trial drug is not a cure, but rather, an experiment being done to find out the appropriate remedy for the virus,” Dr Kakoraki says.

Some of the reports making rounds say that some people who get signs and symptoms related to coronavirus including body aches, high temperature, headache and difficulty breathing, among others self-prescribe some of the mentioned trial drugs.

“I strongly discourage people from the habit of self-prescribing medications,” Dr Kakoraki says.
When one notices any coronavirus related sign or symptom, the medical practioner advises they first seek medical advise.

“It is dangerous to self-medicate,” Dr Kakoraki says, adding, “Medicine taken without the intervention of a health worker may worsen a pre-existing health condition, cause long term negative health effects or even result into death.”
Observation from a pharmacist
As a way of reducing self-medication tendencies, some pharmacists like Peter Musoke insist on selling certain medicines only if a person presents a prescription from a doctor.

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“Recently, a young woman who seemed troubled and in her 20s came asking for dexamethasone. I asked her a few questions but she failed to answer them well. I then became suspicious,” Musoke says.

Musoke ended up advising her to first consult a doctor who would write for her a proper prescription. Musoke says he does not sell certain drugs anyhow because of the potential risks they are likely to impose. For some of these drugs, he asks for prescription before dispersing them.
Follow guidelines
Rather than worrying about whether one will get coronavirus or not, Dr Vincent Karuhanga, a healthcare practitioner at Friends Polyclinic, advises individuals to continue adhering to the recommended health guidelines intended to limit the infection and spread of the disease.

“Continue washing your hands, social distancing and wearing facemasks. When you do that, there are limited chances of you getting sick,” Dr Karuhanga concludes.

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