27 October, 2020

Stop! Don't Swallow

Self-medication can have dangerous results. We all do it, and worse, the makers leave no fine print.

Stop! Don't Swallow
It all began with a desperate phone call from Vineet Bhatia a few months ago. "Dr Mittal, I can't breathe, I can't lie down, I've lost my appetite," pleaded the 40-year-old Vineet, who had suffered from heart failure earlier. An alarmed Dr Sanjay Mittal instructed his former patient to come directly to the Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre in Delhi. By the time Vineet reached the hospital, gasping for breath, there was no time for questions. This executive, barely pushing middle age, was instantly put on life support. His condition stabilised after five traumatic days. "I kept wondering what brought this on," says Dr Mittal who treats heart failure. After searching inquiries, Dr Mittal found the hidden trigger. Vineet had been taking ibuprofen and paracetamol to suppress a toothache, which can cause waterlogging in the body and congestive heart failure in people with a history of cardiac trouble. By taking tablets that are prohibited in his case, Vineet's self-medication was tantamount to shooting a bullet through his recently mended heart.

Vineet's is no isolated...


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