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Self-medication, antibiotics can aggravate COVID 19 crisis in Kashmir: Doctors

Srinagar: Health experts have cautioned against inappropriate use of antibiotics as it can cause bacterial resistance in the time of COVID 19.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply causing more harm.

In the wake of Covid-19, the hidden threat of antibiotic resistance poses even a greater challenge.

A senior resident at SMHS said a lot of patients who report to the hospital have indulged in self-medication in some or the other way.

“There is so much fear of the virus among the people that they end up taking antibiotics even for a common cold. If only they knew, the extent of damage it causes rather than healing,” he said.

He pointed out that the people suffering from a common cold or viral infections are usually prescribed symptomatic treatment by the doctor.

“The patients should not resort to taking antibiotics on their own unless prescribed by the clinician,” he said.

Azithromycin, Ofloxacin, Levofloxacin, and Amoxicillin are available over the counter and people pop them up like candies. “Some of these medications like Levofloxacin delay the diagnosis of tuberculosis. Ofloxacin and Amoxicillin cause diarrhea commonly, for which the patients again take further antibiotics,” the doctor said.

President, Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK), Dr. Suhail Naik said in western countries, patients with any kind of respiratory symptoms undergo a “culture sensitivity” test.

“A culture is a test to find germs (such as bacteria or a fungus) that can cause an infection. Based on the sensitivity test, the doctor sees what kind of medicine, such as an antibiotic, will work best to treat the illness or infection,” he said.

He pointed out that western countries have strong microbiological or laboratory support. “They can conduct such tests frequently and daily. On the contrary, in Asia, we don’t have a mechanism in place. The clinicians based on their empirical judgment can sometimes overuse or misuse antibiotics,” he said.

The doctor asserted that the “non-judicious use of antibiotics” can further lead to “superbug”.

“Superbugs are strains of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that are resistant to most of the antibiotics and other medications commonly used to treat the infections they cause. Consequently, it can cause severe disability and death,” Dr. Suhail said.

World Health Organization has also noted that increased antibiotics use in combating the Covid-19 pandemic will strengthen bacterial resistance and ultimately lead to more deaths during the crisis and beyond.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a “worrying number” of bacterial infections were becoming increasingly resistant to the medicines traditionally used to treat them.

The UN health agency said it was concerned that the inappropriate use of antibiotics during the coronavirus crisis would further fuel the trend