By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The federal government has advised Nigerians against self-medication for COVID-19, saying it could lead to body organs damage.
The Director of Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Dr Adebimpe Adebiyi, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Abuja.
NAN reports that articles about various home remedies and ways to prevent COVID-19 have been circulating on social and conventional media since the onset of coronavirus pandemic.
Theories such as gargling hot saltwater, drinking lots of water and taking various vitamins and antibiotics, are a few that are believed to cure the disease.
Adebiyi emphasised that, while there might be some “rationale” behind these theories, they could however, pose serious dangers to the body and cause health complications.
“Be careful what you read on social media and send to your friends and loved ones, there are all sorts of inaccurate information out there.
“The best thing we can do is maintain our good health habits, eat healthy diets and do lots of exercises when we can.
“Practice social distancing, maintain top hand hygiene and stay home, unless you need to go out for essential activities,” she advised.
The Director noted that one of the most dangerous prevention methods circulating on social media was the abuse of hydroxychloroquine, believed to be a cure for COVID-19.
According to Adebiyi, taking certain drugs without medical prescription and supervision can result in body toxicity and consequently lead to sedation, coma, seizures, heart complications and other conditions.
“Do not take any drugs outside of a physician’s recommendation please.
“At this moment, the best we can do to stay alive is to take medications that have been hypothesised as helpful.
“People with underlying conditions can safely take drugs when prescribed, but we need a better understanding of the risks and benefits of taking medication to treat COVID-19.”
She noted that while the fear of catching COVID-19 was making Nigerians doubly cautious about their health and the need to safeguard same by all means, some had even been relying on traditional home remedies and other detox drinks to stay healthy.
The director added that many had also taken to self-medicating on Vitamin C, Vitamin D and other multivitamins, saying “there has been an exponential rise in Nigerians stocking up on immunity-boosting medicines.
“For many Nigerians, social media has also turned into an online pharmacy and a way for people to “borrow” medical prescriptions and depend on advice from internet pals for treatment.
“The problem of self-medication has been reported so widely, it has actually led Nigerians to avoid testing altogether, exposing others to the risk too.
“Medications work on a case-to-case basis, especially for a disease as critical as COVID-19. A medicine which may prove useful for one, may not be suitable for another.
“Self-medication may also at times, bring on additional health problems. Any medicine or remedy which does not have a doctor’s backing is potentially harmful, especially for those living with a co-morbidity.
“Medicines only work best when they are used according to prescribed dosage by a medical practitioner. If not, it can wreak havoc on the body’s immune system.”
The Director therefore said prevention remained the best cure, adding that “prevention, and cutting down on your risk of exposure, along with proper disinfection habits are really the best way to fight and negate the risks of COVID-19.
“Proper sleep, a good nutrient-rich diet and exercise, are three of the best natural infection fighters, and work better than any supplement. Listen to your body before overdosing on medicines and supplements.
“If you think you might be deficient in any of the vitamins, worried about your diet or have pre-existing medical conditions, a consultation with a medical expert would do you a lot of good.
“Always follow your doctor’s advice before googling your medical conditions on the internet,”