Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It is commonly used as a pain-killer, and it’s being sold all over India, without the need for a prescription. In villages across Andhra Pradesh, they are even sold in general stores.
Many people take diclofenac daily for knee pains and back-ache – continuously for years at a stretch. In the process, they become prone to developing a permanent kidney damage – which in turn increases the chances of contracting chronic kidney diseases, which may even require dialysis. In many cases, these kidney diseases even lead to the premature deaths of patients.
Ideally, patients with high body temperature (fever) should be given paracetamol (which has the least side effects) to bring down the temperature. Because of the ignorance of the villagers and the poor people in urban areas, they contact quacks. Quacks are allegedly prescribing diclofenac injections, collecting ₹50 for each. On the other hand, a paracetamol tablet (of strength 500 mg) costs less than ₹1. In Andhra Pradesh, chemists at many retail medical shops are selling two to four tablets of diclofenac or aceclofenac along with paracetamol, and two to four more tablets of anitibiotic for fever patients, without asking for the required prescription.
The NSAIDs have a lot of side effects. The side effects of NSAID pain-killlers (like brufen, diclofenac, aceclofenac, nimesulide, etc.) include:
1. Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting
2. Indigestion, gastric issues
3. Diarrhoea, constipation
3. Headache, dizziness, drowsiness
4. Allergic reactions: skin rash and itching
5. Increased sweating
6. increased blood pressure
7. Swelling or pain in your arms or legs
8. In cases of prolonged use: stomach and duodenal ulcers, kidney failure
The abuse of NSAIDs, especially pain-killers, is damaging public health, besides causing unnecessary expenditure for the poor. I request the media and fellow doctors to write more articles and talk about this wherever possible, so that masses stop using NSAIDs and protect their health.