Photo for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Patna: Doctors in Bihar are worried as more and more people are now treating themselves by searching medicines on Google.

More than a dozen patients are being treated in Patna hospitals every day reporting various health complications. The new trend of self-medication based on Google searches has hugely alarmed the medical experts.

Doctors said this trend was earlier limited to the urban areas but now this has reached the countryside as well with the villagers armed with smartphones. The moment they fall sick, they search for medicines on the search engine and start taking them without consulting a medical professional, doctors said.

Reports said such cases picked up pace during the second wave of COVID-19 when all health facilities across the state were flooded with the patients and the doctors busy in only treating the coronavirus patients. Added to their worry, almost all the private health clinics too remained closed as the general patients found it hard to consult the doctors and get treatment. This prompted the patients suffering from common diseases like cough, cold, fever, stomach ache and headache turning to Google to get information about the medicines.

But, now the self-medication is proving costlier as is evident from the number of patients rushing to the hospitals with various health complications after taking medicines without consulting the doctors. “We are quite worried over the new trend. People are taking medicines by searching Google and falling sick. Every day we are getting at least a dozen such cases,” said Dr Amit Mishra, medicine department head at state-run Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, one of the premier health facilities in Patna.

Treatment protocol

“How can they know about medicines after just five-ten minute searches on Google? There is a protocol for treatment. There are different medicines and reasons for aches in the head, stomach, legs and other body parts. But the self-medication is now landing many at the hospital due to side effects of the medicines,” Dr Mishra added. He is more worried at the way this trend has reached the countryside too.

Shravan Kumar, a resident of Nalanda district, is one such patient facing the consequences of self-treatment. He told the doctors that he had taken medicines for a week by searching on Google after he was down with cough, cold and fever. Now, he complains of pains in his chest for the past two weeks. Doctors say this is the side effect of unnecessarily taking steroids.

Pankaj Rai of Kankarbagh locality of Patna, too, realised after self-mecication has caused serious problems in his eyes. After feeling irritation in his eyes, he searched for eye drops on Google and used them. The medicine ended his irritation but now he feels burning sensation in his eyes all the time. The doctors describe it as the side effect of the medicines saying the problem could harm the cornea. They have suggested various tests for his eyes.

“Such cases have increased during the COVID-19 times since the people are taking medicines on their own. How can they decide which medicines they have to take and what should be its doses? There are more than 24 reasons for red eyes,” said Dr Sudhir Kumar, an eye specialist based in Patna.

Another health expert Dr Ravi Kirti who is posted with the Department of Medicines at Patna’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said the patients hold the right to know about the medicines by searching on Google but taking medicines without consulting the doctors is really dangerous.