MEDICINES : SHARING IS (POTENTIALLY) SCARY!
Have you ever kept prescribed medicines for “future use”? You know, for a later time in need, and you don’t feel like going to the clinic or the pharmacy to get new meds. Well, they worked back then, so they must be working now too, right?
Malaysians just love to play doctors, prescribing their family members with any type of medicines at their own will. But did you know that, like anything else you can put into your mouth like food, medicines do have expiry dates too. On top of that, each medicine has its own method of storage. If you fail to adhere to any of these two things, you might cause the medicines to lose their effects.
“I took one already, but it doesn’t work. Hmm.. just take one more lah.” Yes, guilty much now? When a medicine loses its effects, we tend to take more doses than necessary. Sometimes, we will just keep shoving it down our throat until it works. Little did we know, not only it will not be as useful, but it could also lead us to overdose instead. Plus, expired medicines could easily cause toxicity, causing a whole new problem to us.
Improper way in storing these medicines could also cause bacterial infection and brings unwanted medical circumstances to the consumers. Most of us probably store our medicines in a bathroom cabinet, or the kitchen cabinet. But we tend to forget that our medicines are not invincible from the heat and moisture from the shower or cooking stoves. And the next thing you know, the “take one more” cycle has already restarted itself.
In general, medicines should be kept somewhere cool and dry, for example your dresser drawer or a kitchen cabinet that is farther away from the stove, sink or any hot appliances. Better yet, store them in a storage box, and place it on a shelf or in a closet. Well, just like how a first aid kit should be kept and never store medicines in your car! The reason is because our weather can be quite extreme that even for the most stable medicine cannot withstand for too long.
Make sure to not simply pass your unfinished prescribed medicines to others. Our bodies run in different systems, hence the different prescriptions. What had worked for your fever, might not work again for your child. Determine the expiry dates from the pharmacies that issued the medicines. If they are expired, just throw them away and get a new one.
Recycling is good, but please, not on medicines. Well, you wanna save money, or save lives? Go figure!
DRUG-INDUCED LIVER INJURY
The liver functions to help our body break down certain medications from our blood, before flushing them out through our urine or bile. While our liver is doing its job to process our blood, abnormal ingestion of drugs harmful to the liver (hepatotoxic drugs) can affect the function of a healthy liver. Toxicity usually occurs after taking the meds for several weeks, or from an overdose of them. Taking multiple drugs at once may also risk our liver to get inflamed and subsequently damaged. According to WHO, liver diseases have caused around 2,500 deaths in Malaysia per year, with 9.7% of it involves drug-induced hepatitis.
The FDA has listed over 900 drugs as harmful to the liver. Anti-tuberculosis drugs (especially isoniazid and rifampicin) and herbal medications are found to be the most common culprits among Asian countries, whereas paracetamol is found to be the most responsible in causing liver inflammation among Western people, damaging the liver when taken more than the recommended dose. These diseases, though come with common symptoms such as fever, diarrhoea and headaches, can only be confirmed through blood tests. Toxic liver can be mild, but if it goes on longer, it could lead to liver failure or even death.
Therefore, in way to reduce harms that come with abusing the meds, prevention is the key. It is crucial to pay attention to the doctor’s instruction, and religiously follow the doses written on the labels. Avoid using these meds with alcohol or carbonated drinks. Never come up with your own mix of different meds without the doctor’s consent, no matter who gave you the tips or even if it had worked on someone before, as our bodies function differently. The same goes to the unproven claims that herbs and spices like willow bark, turmeric, clovers, and many others are as effective as the modern medicines. Life is not something you should be experimenting with.
Whenever in doubt, seek for professional medical advice first. And if you experience any of the symptoms, consult your doctors immediately. Remember to come prepared with the list of all medications (and the so-called natural alternatives) that you took.
BUSTED : Myths on Vaccines!
The Covid-19 vaccination is the most heated trending topic nowadays. The vaccination programme in our country is significantly progressing, having entered its second phase recently. By mid-April, over 9 million Malaysians would have registered, and more than a million to have received their first dose. A global study by the Employment Hero has shown that 70% of local employers are willing to make it compulsory for their employees to get vaccinated, which is way higher than the percentage of employers in the UK (33%), Australia (33%) and New Zealand (35%).
This is in a way a means of harm reduction. Vaccinations are by all means a preventive measure, in ensuring that one is protected from the harms and pain that the 2019 novel coronavirus brings.
However, while vaccination programmes are picking up its pace, baseless rumours about the inefficiency of the vaccine are starting to spread. Some insist that it is important to be vaccinated, in way to cure Covid-19, while others argue that the fact that it is not made compulsory shows how it’s not that crucial. Along with debates come a long list of never-ending myths, including conspiracy theories. No, it doesn’t alter your DNA, nor does it cause Covid-19 to healthy person.
But yes, while Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective, none of them have had a 100% success rate. This means, a small number of people might still become infected after being fully vaccinated, based on their antibody levels, as we have seen after the first phase recently. But those infections are expected to be typically mild, or symptom-free. Our national hero - DG Noor Hisham explained, the symptoms shown by the re-infected are less severe and manageable.
Therefore, precautions must still be taken, to avoid these symptoms altogether. Getting vaccinated does not guarantee you a hall pass, sorry.