At the onset of the pandemic, we have experienced countless inconveniences that have affected how we go about our lives, which includes going to the hospital. Given that the root cause of the pandemic is a coronavirus that needs to be treated using healthcare services, it’s not surprising that our healthcare system has become overwhelmed. This has discouraged many individuals from seeking healthcare and has caused them to shift to what we call DIY healthcare.
As the term implies, DIY healthcare entails finding one’s own solutions–whether it be alternative medicine or unverified practices–to the signs and symptoms they may be experiencing. While DIY healthcare is not inherently harmful, the danger lies within the irresponsible and harmful usage of these practices. Here are 3 of the many cases of DIY healthcare in our current circumstances.
Case #1: Taking Antibiotics without Prescription
One common case is taking unprescribed medicine for diseases that are beyond what people experience: in this case, antibiotics for flu symptoms like cough and colds. Antibiotics are usually prescribed for bacterial infections and may not be effective for sicknesses caused by viruses and other reasons. While this may work in some cases, being able to verify that it does truly work for your condition can only be perceived and diagnosed by a licensed medical professional.
More importantly, this specific case contributes to antibiotic resistance which occurs when bacteria no longer responds to the antibiotic given (WHO, 2020). Antibiotic resistance can be sped up by misuse of antibiotics by those who either don’t need it or don’t need too much of it. We can do our part in combating antibiotic resistance by not taking antibiotics and other prescription medicine without actual advice from the doctor.
Case #2: Alternative Medicine for Potentially Serious Conditions
While there are forms of natural and alternative medicine that have been proven to address illnesses, a wide array of unproven practices continue to exist even in the pandemic. One good example for this would be tuob and steam inhalation to treat COVID-19. While it is proven that breathing in steam can help moisturize nasal passages for those who have dry cough or congested noses (Bass, 2021), it is not proven that steam inhalation can address COVID-19. Despite this, many people have opted to use this as they thought that the hot steam would help “kill” the virus. This has since been debunked by the Philippine Department of Health, saying in its presser back in 2020 that both the US Center for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have rejected the idea that steam inhalation can treat COVID-19 (Montemayor, 2020).
Another good example of alternative medicine misuse is the usage of ivermectin to treat COVID-19. Ivermectin, a known parasitic drug, has been promoted as a potential drug to fight COVID-19 by some groups without concrete evidence. This has caused some people to hoard doses of ivermectin to take on a daily basis whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19 to prevent the disease altogether. However, this didn’t really go well for some of those who took it, as a number of deaths linked to ivermectin and COVID-19 treatment have been recorded (Argento, 2021). Overall, we should all remain critical of what we see or hear from others so that we would not be misinformed, especially if it puts our health on the line.
Case #3: Self-Diagnosis
Lastly, there has been a rise in cases of self-diagnosis, unnecessary fear, and panic. When you feel a certain symptom that you haven’t felt before, there is always an urge to search what it means or what it’s saying about our health. However, it’s hard to draw the line between curiosity and excessively finding a solution to your health issues alone. At times, it reaches the point of panic, fear, and uncertainty, which is often unnecessary. This is precisely why we need to seek the advice of a professional that can holistically analyze our situation.
While the healthcare industry has sustained a significant wound from the pandemic in the face of understaffing, lacking facilities, and the transmission of the virus among others, healthcare has become more accessible that you can reach a doctor and get advice even in the comforts of your room, home, or wherever you are. With this, consulting your doctor should not be something that you have to dread or risk your safety for. In reality, with technology and comprehensive healthcare management systems, we can be able to make healthcare reach everyone, regardless of place or circumstance.
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Argento, M. (2021). Man whose wife won a lawsuit to treat his COVID-19 with ivermectin has died. Retrieved from USA Today.
Bass, P. (2021). Remedies for Dry Cough. Retrieved from VeryWell Health
Montemayor, M. T. (2020). DOH warns public vs ‘tuob’. Retrieved from Philippine News Agency.
WHO. (2020). Antibiotic resistance [fact sheet]. Retrieved from World Health Organization.