Advertisements on many herbal and orthodox medicines, as well as herbal-based alcoholic beverages, have become common these days, with messages in the advertisements promising aphrodisiac powers for men and slimming effects for women.
All these are so because society now defines a real man by his sexual performance and, therefore, medical doctors say the youth are abusing these herbal medications without considering their side effects.
However, a Consultant Physician and Kidney Specialist at the Department of Medicine at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr Winfred Baah, has cautioned the public against the use of such drugs, alcoholic beverages and abuse of all forms of medications.
According to Dr Baah, the abuse of medication, particularly herbal preparations and some pain killers, was resulting in a high prevalence of kidney diseases, particularly among the youth.
He explained that most of the herbal medications on the market had no scientific basis in terms of their preparation and required dosage, hence their safety could not be guaranteed.
He said the practice of buying medications, such as painkillers and antibiotics over the counter or at unapproved places such as from vendors, which was very common, should be avoided since they were high in toxins.
“It is necessary to have full knowledge of the drugs that we are taking. Consult your doctor for expert advice on the drugs you are taking, both orthodox and herbal,” he said, adding that “people with kidney diseases should be more cautious with medications”.
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He said people, without any scientific basis, were engaged in mixing concoctions for people to take, stressing: “People are just mixing concoctions in the name of preparing herbal medicines and deceiving people that herbs do not have or have very minimal side effects.”
Dr Baah explained that most orthodox medications were made from herbs, but according to health professionals, they contained some level of toxins, and that was why dosages and expiry dates were provided to avoid abuse that could lead to complications.
He said signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease developed over time if kidney damage progressed slowly, and they included nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue and weakness, insomnia, changes in quantity of urine passed by the patient and decreased mental sharpness.
“Oedema such as swollen legs, in arms, scrotum or any part of the body, including the lungs, which affects breathing and becomes an emergency, as well as feeling very sick and unwell, are all symptoms as well,” he said.
Dr Baah says treatment for stages one to four of kidney disease is called “conservative management”, while the end stage of the disease requires dialysis, optimally three times a week for life or until the patient undergoes a kidney transplant.