There is a growing trend among patients to misuse antibiotics, risking kidney failure or immunization of the articlebody to the drugs’ effects, Saudi physicians and pharmacists say.
Jeddah pharmacists have warned patients that not taking the full antibiotic course can cause resistance in the articlebody and require more potent antibiotics to stave off illness.
“Whether it’s a urinary tract infection or any other infection, many people go to the pharmacy without consulting a doctor and buy any antibiotic. They will take it for just one or two days, and when they feel a little better they stop taking it,” said Dr. Nishath Akhter. “This will really trouble their health later on.”
She added, “Many people will take any medicine they heard of from friends or relatives. They don’t understand that a doctor has to check them first to decide what medicine they need.”
When it comes to taking over-the-counter drugs, Akhter says there is another unhealthy trend of children taking tablets for headaches without professional medical supervision. One brand in particular is used widely by adults and children. “Some children have taken so much of this medicine that they have gone from taking one tablet to two tablets to get relief. The side effects of this medicine can give them gastric or kidney problems,” she said.
Antibiotics are also used for the wrong purposes. Antibiotics are effective to treat bacterial and fungal infections, but are ineffective against viruses. Often, patients use antibiotics to treat colds and flu, which has no effect. Using antibiotics against viruses will only lessen the drugs’ effect on bacterial infections, according to the Mayo Clinic in the United States.
Such abuse can lead to higher medical costs to treat illnesses and prolong hospital stays, according to the clinic.
Pakistani housewife Umm Anas says mothers should never give their children any medicine without consulting a doctor, “Because even if it seems like a simple ailment, it might not be. Only a doctor, after doing tests, can know what medicine to prescribe to a child,” she said.
Houesewife Fathima Ansari told Arab News that there is ignorance among many people about the danger of taking medicines without consulting a doctor.
“I remember a friend of mine, whose children used to take tablets for headaches daily when returning from school — even her seven-year-old son!” said Ansari.
Pharmacist Ahmed Emarah said customers would come to the pharmacy demanding to take only half the course and getting angry if he tried to explain them they needed to take the full course.
“They accuse me that I’m telling them to take the full course, just because I want to sell the medicine. Now, many people have become resistant to the first generation of antibiotics and need to take second generation antibiotics as a result of not completing the course,” he said.