Beware, it is dangerous to self-medicate and mix drugs to ‘treat’ COVID-19

Experts in pharmacology analyze the health risks that the use of self-medicated formulas can cause for the treatment of the new coronavirus. It is not recommended to follow the “medical prescriptions” that circulate on social networks. A chain that suggests an extensive list of drugs to treat COVID-19 symptoms at home has spread on Facebook. However, this post mixes false information with true data.

The chain, which has been shared more than 20,000 times on Facebook, begins by saying that “if you are a patient suspected of having COVID-19 or you have an elderly relative and you do not have the opportunity to receive care (… ) it is time to attend them at home, complying with all these recommendations ”. Here are a number of medications that include azithromycin, ivermectin, and prednisone, among others.

However, according to Claudia Patricia Vaca González, a teaching pharmacologist at the National University, and Luisa María Gómez Pinto, a pharmaceutical clinic, self-medication can cause kidney failure, liver complications and even resistance to antibiotics in patients.

“Self-medication is more serious insofar as it incorporates drugs that in principle require specialized monitoring by a doctor or that are substances that are still not endorsed (to treat COVID-19) by a health authority. Given that there are medicines that are sold without a prescription, the risks faced by the population are greater, ”says Claudia Vaca.

According to the analysis of both pharmacists, Colombiachek reviewed each of the drugs recommended by the Facebook chain. They reiterate that none of the formulas described here, much less the mixtures, cure, prevent or treat COVID-19

1. “Ivermectin: 6 mg, one drop per kg of weight for two days in a glass of water and well stirred”: misleading

Ivermectin is an antiparasitic that has been used in research that seeks to verify its ability to reduce the replication of SARS-COV-2 in tests ‘in vitro’, that is, in cells grown in the laboratory. However, so far, “its effectiveness has not been proven in patients infected with COVID-19.” Even in one of the press bulletins of the Ministry of Health it is made clear that “The National Government does not recommend ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19”

On the other hand, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) insists that “ivermectin is being used incorrectly in the treatment of COVID-19, without any scientific evidence of its efficacy and safety for the treatment of the disease” .

In that sense, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that “additional tests are needed to determine if ivermectin may be appropriate to prevent or treat coronavirus.” For this reason, PAHO advises against its use “for any purpose other than those for which it is authorized.”

Here you can see the check by Colombiacheck that explains why there is still a long way to go to consider ivermectin as an effective treatment.

2. “Azithromycin 500 mg daily for five days. If you can’t find it, you can replace it with 100 mg doxycycline, every 12 hours for seven days ”: misleading

Azithromycin is an antibiotic that, according to pharmacologist Claudia Vaca, without the medical assistance of a professional, can cause counterproductive effects such as cardiac arrhythmia or liver damage. Additionally, antibiotics have not been proven to be a cure for COVID-19.

On the other hand, the WHO has stated that the use of this drug to prevent and treat bacterial infections may lose its effect due to indiscriminate use and self-medication. Bacteria mutate until they become resistant to this drug. The WHO recommendation to the population is “to take antibiotics only when prescribed by a certified health professional”.

Here you can see a Colombiacheck check that shows that it is misleading to claim that antibiotics work to treat COVID-19.

3. “If you have a fever, give ibuprofen or acetaminophen every 8 hours”: Yes, but …

According to the FDA, although these drugs are available over the counter, excessive consumption of acetaminophen can cause liver damage and ibuprofen, being part of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can pose risks of heart attack and stroke.

The maximum amount per dose for acetaminophen is 650 mg and for ibuprofen it is 800 mg. In the case of both drugs, it is recommended to consume a maximum of 4 doses a day with intervals between four and six hours per dose. For children, the consumption of both acetaminophen and ibuprofen varies according to their weight in pounds and age.

4. “If he is a little short of breath or if he starts to get agitated, give him prednisone 50 mg for breakfast for six days and then lower by half for six more days”: Don’t do it, if he is short of breath, go to the hospital, don’t self-medicate.

According to the “Guidelines for the clinical management of patients with new coronavirus COVID-19 infection”, patients with respiratory problems require hospital care. Prednisone, according to Claudia Vaca, is a drug that is used to treat respiratory problems, but they require professional care.

If this drug is withdrawn abruptly, it may cause irreversible kidney damage. This medicine is part of the corticosteroids (a variety of hormones that can present risks in some patients), that is why it requires specialized care to avoid causing adverse damage.

5. “If he chokes and is agitated by any movement and has a fever, give him 1 gram ceftriaxone and two 4 milligram ampoules of dexamethasone”: Do not self-medicate, these are medications with several contraindications.

Again, if a patient has respiratory complications, medical care is required. Ceftriaxone is an antibiotic and dexamethasone is part of the family of corticosteroids, therefore, these two drugs have the same complications explained above in similar drugs.

The difference between these drugs and the previous ones is that they require a medical prescription, so for their sale, the pharmacy that sells them must have a special permit from the local health department.

6. “Drink plenty of fluids and maintain good hydration”: this is true

This point is correct, because the England Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (Aspen) pointed out in its report “Nutrition and hydration: key factors in the fight against COVID-19” that if an adult has a fever of 39 degrees Celsius, sweating it includes a loss of about 900 milliliters every 24 hours and an additional 90 milliliters when coughing and breathing.

This fluid deficiency increases due to the presence of nausea or diarrhea. Hence the importance of hydration in patients with COVID-19. This same report warns that for a patient in the recovery process, it is advisable to drink between 60 to 120 milliliters every 15 minutes.

7. “If you get complicated and breathe more than 24 times a minute, get oxygen”: yes, but …

The Ministry of Health warns that patients with COVID-19 who present oximetry levels below 94 percent have a higher risk of suffering from a serious health condition or of dying. That is why the Ministry orders a timely assessment and provide oxygen to patients with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. In order for a patient to be supplied with oxygen, they must meet the clinical criteria for its administration after evaluation by a medical professional.

8. “Give 100 mg aspirin daily for 10 days”: not recommended.

Christiam Alexis González, pharmaceutical chemist and master’s degree in pharmaceutical care from the University of Barcelona, ​​explained to Colombiacheck in a previous check-up that “aspirin is contraindicated in those with clotting problems or a history of anemia or leukemia,” for which he recommends “Not self-medicate.” The Empty Chair Lie Detector also wrote an article explaining why aspirin does not cure COVID-19.

9. “You must be very careful with people over 45 years of age and who are obese, hypertensive, diabetic, or asthmatic”: this is true.

It is true that Minsalud warns that these are the most common comorbidities in covid patients. The WHO also reported that people of legal age and suffering from underlying diseases are the most vulnerable population to contract COVID-19 at a chronic level. This information can be compared with the report of the National Institute of Health of August 28.

Despite the fact that the population over 60 years of age presents a lower number of positive cases compared to younger ones (87,310 cases compared to 503,210), its mortality rate is much higher (14,018 deaths compared to 4,749).

10. “Make inhalations with chamomile and eucalyptus and gargle salt water and lemon bicarbonate in hot water in the morning”: false, this does not prevent COVID-19

As Colombiacheck has already repeated on different occasions, neither chamomile or eucalyptus inhalations, nor salt water gargles, nor lemon bicarbonate are remedies that help counteract the new coronavirus.

Here you can see a video from Vanguardia where he explains why these home videos do not work against COVID-19.

In conclusion, the Facebook chain with a list of drugs to treat COVID-19 ”is imprecise. To date, although the symptoms can be treated, there is no cure for this disease. Medication is not recommended under any circumstances without the assessment of a professional.

This article was written by José Reinaldo Morera Molina of RedCheq and published by Colombiacheck. Vanguardia publishes it with the authorization of this media in the framework of the effort to combat misinformation regarding the coronavirus outbreak in the world and Colombia.

‘Fake News‘ about the coronavirus? We check it

Remember that not all information published on the Internet is true and a lot of false news circulates on social networks. Therefore, it is advisable not to share everything that comes to us and first check official sources so as not to fall into misinformation and cause collective panic.

Citizens who are aware of a suspicious publication about coronavirus that is circulating on social networks or the Internet, can write to us at the WhatsApp line 314 3600052 or send an email to [email protected]

You can also write to us through the Vanguardia.com contact channels on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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