While pharmaceuticals and scientific drugs are regulated to some extent, side effects and harms associated with various health products worth billions of market remain untested and unregulated.
It has become a common practice to advertise health products that claim to be panacea for all ailments, enhance immunity, to increase power and health by creating an impression on minds on various platforms. Instead of producing scientific evidence, such products and therapies are sold under disguise of natural therapies or alternate medicines. Needless to say, the objective evidence or global neutral trial for the claimed efficacy or about real side effects is always missing.
No one can deny that the knowledge circulated through various media plays an important role in reframing the narrative in patient’s or people’s mind. These can be in form of advertisements in television or articles in newspapers. The subjectivity of such advertisements creating new impressions and replacing previous ones, right or wrong cannot be denied.
A youth with a history of taking excessive gym supplements and protein powder
Companies have created huge fortunes based on circulation of such pedagogic narratives and social knowledge. But in real sense, these are actually chemical and have biological actions and reactions. Chemical derived from natural sources can have side effects and contain impurities. Global neutral trials to validate effects and side effects remain an urgent need of the hour for all health products.
A frightening scenario is emerging as there seems to be an epidemic about fake or substandard medicines, spurious drugs and heightened belief in marketed therapies by advertisements. An epidemic of ignorance that causes people to believe in pseudoscience or merely in projected promise of cure. A hope of miracle is flashed to patients, who have been given a ‘no hope’ by scientific medicine. Such patients are an easy prey for such fraudsters. It is not uncommon that lethal substances like steroids, hormones and heavy metals are given in dangerous doses.
In the absence of strict Government control, all kinds of dubious assertions are available about curing all types of ailments. These alleged remedies, and the belief systems they are based on, are based on the facts that can neither be proved nor disapproved. They are dangerous to life of patients, which is why it is necessary to fight them and refute them. But who should fight? Patients themselves are blinded by a projected faith and false belief about definite cure.
NEW DELHI: A youth with a history of taking excessive gym supplements and protein powder was brought to the emergency ward of Hospital in south Delhi in a comatose and critical condition. Doctors said the unconscious 22-year-old youth had extremely low oxygen levels, necessitating ventilatory support. He was immediately shifted to intensive care, where he stayed for almost a week. The patient was eventually discharged with no neurological deficit of any kind, said doctors at the hospital.
Citing the youth’s case, doctors caution against excessive use of fitness supplements and said that this can cause serious neurological damages besides proving fatal in some cases. He was found to be suffering from multiple severe metabolic derangement, including very high level of muscle enzymes, creatine phosphokinase, suggesting breakdown of muscle tissue. Further investigations revealed extremely low calcium levels which were also responsible for his deteriorating state. The patient was diagnosed as having toxic encephalopathy (brain dysfunction caused by toxic exposure) and rhabdomyolysis (a serious medical condition that can be fatal or result in permanent disability) which, occurred after excessive consumption of gym supplements. After stabilising the patient in the ICU, the youth was treated for correction of these medical issues, leading eventually to his recovery. The patient had no history of substance abuse and the toxicology screening of his urine also returned negative. After regaining consciousness after two days, the 22-year-old confessed to excessive intake of gym supplements and various types of protein powders. The case highlighted the hazards of use of body-building supplements, which could have catastrophic consequences. There was a strong possibility that significant muscle breakdown resulted in depletion of calcium levels which manifested with convulsions and altered level of consciousness. This can be labelled as toxic encephalopathy.
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