As India struggles with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest problem remains that we don’t really have a specific medicine or cure yet. That’s exactly why doctors are currently divided on the right course of treatment and their overall approach when it comes to COVID-19 patients. Owing to the same, a lot of confusion continues to prevail which has led to hoarding and black marketeering of certain drugs. Unfortunately, not only are people hoarding these drugs but also taking them as per their own discretion without any expert advice.
Now, this goes without saying that self-medication is not advisable be it any ailment let alone something as complicated as COVID-19. That said, we do believe that self-medication is a bad idea. And that’s why we reached out to Dr. Prashant Borade, Senior Consultant and Head of Department, Critical Care at Global Hospitals, Mumbai–to get a grasp of what each drug/treatment that is currently being used for COVID-19 actually does.
Although there’s no absolute treatment available for COVID-19, it’s important to know that early medical attention improves outcomes, simply based on close clinical monitoring and appropriate supportive treatment. Now, as Dr. Borade says, “Self medications are inappropriate and one might fail to pick up early signs of deterioration in clinical condition.” That is exactly why you need to reach out to a healthcare expert and seek the treatment/medicines that will work best for you.
Before self-medicating, you need to understand that it might actually make things worse for a COVID-19 patient. In some cases, the clinical condition in COVID-19 can deteriorate very fast. We can not forget about ‘happy hypoxia’ where patients may feel fine but their oxygen saturation dips, thus damaging vital organs. This is why you need to keep in touch with your doctor instead of self-medication. “This holds true even if you’re a doctor,” adds Dr. Borade.
Now, before we get into this topic, it is important to note that medical experts still remain largely divided on possible COVID-19 treatments. Also, while some treatment courses might have given great results for a certain expert, they might not be the same for everyone. That said, here is Dr. Borade’s take on all the common drugs currently being used as part of the COVID-19 treatment:
As per Dr. Borade, steroids can be “life-saving in moderate to severe COVID-19 cases.”
Note: The steroid dose needs to be decided by a doctor experienced in treating COVID-19 patients because it depends on a lot of factors including daily clinical condition, oxygen saturations, appropriate blood investigations, etc. They should be avoided if oxygen saturation is normal. Don’t forget to monitor blood sugar level strictly even if you’re not diabetic.
Plasma therapy may show some benefits in the early stages of the COVID-19 infection. However, the results remain inconsistent.
Note: Clinical evidence is poor for use of plasma therapy in later stages of COVID-19 infection.
In Dr. Borade’s experience, Remdesivir does help in symptomatic relief to a certain extent.
Note: Mortality benefits of Remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment have not been shown in clinical studies.
As per Dr. Borade, antibiotics have no role in COVID-19 treatment unless you are worried about having a bacterial infection.
Note: If taken without a doctor’s advice or without appropriate evidence of bacterial infection, antibiotics might lead to resistant bacterial infections or fungal infections later on.
“No antiviral medications show mortality benefits,” says Dr. Borade.
Note: You may get an upset stomach and gastritis if you take antivirals without an expert’s supervision.
Paracetamol can be used for symptomatic relief of fever and body ache.
Caution: Closely watch how the number of doses that you take in 24 hours. They can cause liver damage when taken too frequently. Consult your doctor to find out the maximum dose that you can take in a day.
According to Dr. Borade, anti-malaria drugs have no mortality benefits in COVID-19 treatment.
Note: Anti-malaria drugs should never be taken as a preventive measure against COVID-19.
Lastly, it is important to remember that while we might not have a definite treatment for COVID-19, the prevention is still in our hands in the form of vaccines. It is important that we get vaccinated ASAP and do our bit in India’s fight against COVID-19.
Featured Image: Instagram