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Special Correspondent
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Expo highlights dos and don’ts on use of antibiotics

Safety awareness:Annamalai, assistant director, Drugs Control Office, Vellore zone (centre), and Sunil Chandy, director, CMC Hospital (right), at the exhibition in Vellore on Wednesday.— Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy
Safety awareness:Annamalai, assistant director, Drugs Control Office, Vellore zone (centre), and Sunil Chandy, director, CMC Hospital (right), at the exhibition in Vellore on Wednesday.— Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy

What happens when one takes antibiotics when not needed? How does consumption of alcohol affect medicines? What action does food have on medicines? These are some pertinent questions which found answers in charts on display at an exhibition organised by Pharmacy Services of Christian Medical College in connection with the 52nd National Pharmacy Week-2013 celebrations at the CMC Hospital here on Wednesday.

Not many people who take medicines are aware of the reaction that some types of food have on medicines.

One of the charts explained that for those who are on phenelzine (an anti-depressant), intake of large amounts of chocolate might increase blood pressure. Caffeine in the chocolate can increase the effect of stimulants such as Addwize (Methylphenidate) and decrease the effect of sedatives.

The chart on ‘alcohol and medicines’ stated that drinking alcohol might increase the effects of many medicines, especially sleeping/anxiety tablets such as Zolpidem, anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, anti-histamines, barbiturates, muscle relaxants and pain medicines.

The chart says, “Don’t take alcohol while taking medicines and for 24 hours after stopping medicines.” An alcohol reaction such as flushing, throbbing headache, fast heart rate and nausea might occur within 10 minutes of taking alcohol.

Here is an important advice to those who regularly take milk: “Don’t take milk two hours before or after you take Tetracycline, Ciprofloxacin or Norfloxacin. As the medicine binds calcium in milk, less of it is absorbed in the system.”

The chart on antibiotics contained important information for those who tend to go in for self-medication. If taken when not needed, antibiotics help resistant bacteria grow, and when bacteria become resistant, antibiotics are not effective. “Resistant bacteria can stay in your body or spread to other people; it causes severe illnesses that are difficult or expensive; if highly resistant, the disease may be incurable.”

The chart also said: “Never take antibiotics for viral illnesses like cold or flu; do not share antibiotics, they can cause dangerous side-effects.” The chart also said that those who have been prescribed antibiotics, they should take every dose even if the symptoms go away.

One of the stalls in the exhibition warned of the dangers of alcohol addiction and smoking. While smoking accounts for nine lakh deaths every year in India, among men who die in the age group of 30-69, smoking caused 32 per cent of deaths due to cancer, and 20 per cent of deaths due to blood vessel diseases (ex., heart attack). Alcohol use contributes to 50 per cent of all motor vehicle fatalities, contributes to unsafe sex and increases risk of AIDS, and contributes to risky behaviour and accidental deaths. As regards health consequences, alcohol use increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases (coronary diseases, stroke, hypertension), risk of cancer (liver, stomach, colon, pancreas, breast, mouth and throat), and results in impaired immune system, malnutrition and reproductive problems.

The exhibition had stalls which provided counselling to diabetics and asthma patients. One stall displayed and sold a lot of tablet dispensers and tablet cutters.

Annamalai, assistant director, Drugs Control Office, Vellore zone, inaugurated the exhibition. Sunil Chandy, director, CMC Hospital, and J.V. Peter, Head of the Department of Pharmacy of the CMC, were present.

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