Capital in the grip of air-borne diseases

Physicians warn against self-medication and abuse of drugs

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: Delhiites are facing one of the worst spells of viral fever, meningitis and diarrhoea in the city this season. With rising incidence of these diseases, worried physicians have warned against self-medication and abuse of drugs, especially antibiotics.

City doctors are asking people to take every precaution to avoid these diseases and take proper treatment.

"Seasonal viral fevers are aggravated with peak levels of moisture in the air leading to symptoms of high fever (103-104 F), nausea, cough, headache, watery nasal discharge, redness of eyes, joint pains and even diarrhoea. Earlier, the elderly were among the people most affected, but recently even children have been treated for symptoms," explained Consultant, Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospitals, Tarun Sahni.

A normal person can contract viral fever by inhaling droplets secreted by a coughing and sneezing patient.

"There is little one can do to avoid this infection since the virus is air borne and spreads in crowded places such as offices, classrooms, playschools and day-care centres," said Editor, MIMS India, C. Gulati.

"However, it is important to know that treatment options are provided only to tide over the symptoms. Although treatment for viral fevers is mostly symptomatic, it is observed that most patients are prescribed strong fever and pain reliever for a quick response. Patients have to understand that invariably, any swift relief also carries the risk of side effects. For instance, common fever and painkillers such as ibuprofen, nimesulide, and diclofenac, often doled out to patients, are known to come down heavily on the digestive system. These medications belonging to the class of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or (NSAIDs) leading to symptoms of gnawing, burning pain in the upper abdomen, stomach ulcers, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss and fatigue and an array of additional agony one could definitely do without," warned Dr. Gulati.

Physicians add that viral fevers stubbornly follow their own course. However, in very young and the old patients, respiratory complication is always a possibility. In such situations hospitalisation is a must if fever does not abate in two-three days. But as in most cases, uncomplicated viral fever can be tackled symptomatically with bed rest, lot of fluid, and a doctor's prescription.

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