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Overmedicating is dangerous - Panadol does not cure chik-V

Published:Tuesday | October 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE WOMEN stood at the counter of the little shop in their inner-city Kingston community on a sunny Sunday afternoon, waiting to be served their regular supply of Panadol.

"Hurry up wid mi Panadol, Ms G. Mi nuh tek none from morning!" one elderly woman shouted.

"Mi mek sure tek my three pack a Panadol every day because mi nuh intend fi get this chikengunarea ting at all," a younger lady uttered.

"A tru, man. The whol' lane infested wid chik-V, but it nah reach mi. Morning, noon, an' night mi tek my Panadol and it a work. Everybody inna my yard get it except me. Panadol a di real chik-V cure," her neighbour added to the mix.

Across sections of Jamaica, the lengths to which people will go and the many things they will do to prevent being infected with the debilitating chikungunya virus sweeping the country is alarming. But even more alarming is the harm many could be inflicting on themselves by overmedicating.

"I cannot overemphasise this any stronger: Overmedicating is very, very dangerous. It is bad, wrong, just plain dangerous," warned Dr Shane Alexis, president of the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ).

"There are several side effects that can occur from this dangerous practice, from ulcers, which can result in bleeding, vomiting, to diarrhoea, which can lead to infections. It can even result in death because persons with underlying conditions such as kidney problems can develop serious complications by overdosing on these types of medications."

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and a rash.

There is no cure for the disease, and treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms. Medications with paracetamol, such as Panadol, are often recommended to treat the sometimes unbearable pain and severe fever, the main symptoms of chik-V. Paracetamol is a mild analgesic that is commonly used for the relief of headaches and other aches and pains and is a major ingredient in numerous cold and flu remedies.

"Panadol, or other medication, does not prevent chik-V at all. Its main purpose is for the relief of pain and fever, and it has no properties whatsoever to cure or prevent chikungunya or any diseases," Alexis told The Gleaner yesterday.

"What these persons need to do is work to clean up their communities and reduce the breeding sites of the mosquitoes."

He said as it evaluates more chik-V cases, the MAJ circulates revised treatment guidelines to doctors that include other medications that can be used based on a patient's medical condition and the symptoms that they exhibit.


Doctors are also expressing concern that too many persons are self-diagnosing and not going to a health-care provider to determine if they do in fact have chikungunya or another ailment. The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue and can often be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.

"Persons need to allow trained medical professionals to evaluate their case and administer proper treatment," said Alexis.

"I know these are hard economic times, but there are both private and public medical options available to everyone. You can determine what is the most practical option, but it is very important that you are properly evaluated to determine your medical condition and not wait until it is too late."

He added: "Staying at home can only cause complications and difficulties, especially if you have other medical conditions. It doesn't make sense to wait until there are serious complications before you seek proper medical help. That's very dangerous."

Alexis called for the Ministry of Health to step up its public-education campaign, especially in rural and inner-city communities, to dispel these unsafe misconceptions and practices.

"If we do not educate people effectively and repeatedly, especially regarding health issues, then if we have an outbreak of a deadly disease such as Ebola, we will be in serious trouble. We must use the chik-V opportunity to learn and improve so that if we have a case of Ebola, these lessons we are learning now will not be repeated when it really counts," the MAJ president cautioned.

According to the latest data from the Pan American Health Organization, so far this year, there have been chikungunya outbreaks in approximately 50 countries in the Americas and the Caribbean, with officially 748,403 suspected cases, 11,545 confirmed cases, and 141 deaths.

Readers who suffered through the debilitating chikungunya virus and are either recovering or have recovered, have taken to Facebook to let The Gleaner and their fellow Jamaicans in on how they coped.

I got it and [oh my God] it was awful! The pain, the pain, you would have to experience it for yourself to understand what I'm talking about. The fever, the weakness and I also realised that it seemed to affect any existing problems that you might have inside your body. For example, I have back and knee problems and it affected my back first, then my knee. It even affected an old sprained toe I had. I couldn't walk. I had to be assisted. This chik-v takes away your independence.

- Ingrid McKellar

Not good at all. Tears come to my eyes when it's time to take a bath. The rash on my skin whenever water touches my skin it feels like someone sticking me all over my body with a needle and the pain [oh my God]! Worst time of my life .

- Nicole Johnson

I would tell anybody that I would have my kids them over than have the chik-v. All now I can't walk good, my ankle hurts badly.

- Karen Ximines

Four weeks later, I still feel joint pains. I still can't walk properly or use my left hand to even open a bottle. In the mornings, I have to bathe my foot in hot water before I'm able to stand or walk.

- Talia Jo Jo Clarke

Terrible headache, itching of the skin, fever, joint pains, loss of appetite, and pain around the eyes. It's good to get the coconut water, as it gives you strength. In addition, chicken soup can be consumed.

- Pro'spero De Uno

Terrible, terrible thing. I came to Jamaica because my father, who is 100 years old, was sick. Ironically, he recovered very quickly from the chik-v, thank God. Little did I know that despite all the OFF! and Vitamin C, I took the chik-v back to Florida with me. Well, for anyone who have suffered this chik-v fate, you know how bad the pain is. After a week and two days later, I am finally recovering, slowly, still very weak, etc. The joke is, the doctor here in Florida did not know chik-v, and I had to tell him what it is and how to treat it.

- Josephine Johnson

Soursop leaves are very good! Plus, you can't bathe in any kind of cold water! Warm water is the choice! My mom just got over it in four days tops! Praise be to God! Not even a bump shi nuh get! The soursop leaves and stem work wonders!

- Valrie Moscow

Real crosses! Every kind of issue pops up with this one! I know there are some serious infections out there, but this is like nothing you ever experienced before. Every time you think it's gone, here it comes again! After three days of clearing up, all of a sudden I started itching like crazy; it started attacking/aggravating my eczema! Then the pain in the foot started coming back! Where does this thing get off and leave people in peace to pick up the pieces? #worstnightmare

- Bisasor Angela

Before I got the virus, I was saying, 'I think some of those persons just behaving extra, and if I should catch it I'm not going to behave that way'. The day chik-v visited me, I tried to walk normal because I didn't want the unnecessary attention. When chik-v hit me the right way, mi literally have to drop myself on the ground. Of my nuff years on Earth, I've never experienced anything this horrible. If chik-v should decide to visit my house again, I will take it. I don't want this thing near to my children.

- Dunella Pusey

I have a headache because I couldn't eat. I had a fever, my back, elbows, fingers, knees, hips, feet - all had pain.

- Pablo Starr

Not even when I went into labour, I've never felt these pains. Luckily, I had bissy. I drank it and used paracetamol and plenty vitamin c. I'm thankful I never got any of the rashes.

- Nadine Bennett Titus

Right now, I am just recovering from chik-v. My four-year-old also caught it. It nuh nice and it nuh normal. Worse when your body feel better and that pain still in your ankle, you can't walk. Not to mention the rash. My skin scratch mi like crazy. I want to sue Fenton Ferguson.

- Sandra Henry