WhatsApp ‘prescriptions’ add to Covid woes

Even as an acute shortage of beds, medical equipment and doctors, hampers Covid management in Uttar Pradesh, the ‘WhatsApp University’ is doing brisk business in the pandemic.

Prescriptions for Covid treatment come dime a dozen on WhatsApp groups, ranging from home remedies to Ayurveda and Unani prescriptions and audio and videos advices.None of the remedies are certified or verified but people are lapping them up with an alarming urgency.

“The second Covid wave has worsened the situation and almost everyone on WhatsApp has become a Covid expert.

I have been closely monitoring the ‘recipes’ and I am completely flummoxed. One such recipe for patients in home isolation, recommends five teaspoons of cinnamon powder, taken with warm water. Cinnamon can actually increase the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the stomach, which restricts blood circulation by constricting your blood vessels. This helps you retain body heat and is counterproductive in summer,” said Dr Narottam Kumar, a physician.

He said that advisories that recommend drinking ‘kadha’ (a concoction of spices) every two hours is also harmful.

“I have people who are developing ulcers by drinking too much ‘kadha’,” he said.

Dr Rajiv Kumar, senior physician at a government hospital, said that self-medication was emerging as a major problem in treating Covid patients.

“Patients come to us when they have tried all medicines – from paracetamol to ivermectin – in quantities that are certainly not required. We have patients who are taking steam inhalation five to six times a day because someone on WhatsApp told them that it kills Corona virus. This excess steam inhalation is drying up mucus in the nasal and throat path. Besides, steam is not recommended as a treatment for the corona virus by either the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO),” he said.

Another very popular ‘prescription’ on WhatsApp is that of the ‘camphor potli’ where the user is required to put camphor, cloves and carrom seeds on a piece of clean cloth and tie it into a ‘potli’ and keep smelling it all the time.

Dr R K Khanna, a ENT specialist, said that there was no logic behind smelling the camphor potli except reassuring one self that that the sense of smell in intact. “People have started putting the potli into their masks which could cause other health issues,” he said.

Dr Surya Kant, pulmonologist, has now appealed to people not to follow WhatsApp prescriptions without consulting their family doctors.