Missing a dose or two of diabetes or hypertension medication may not seem like a big deal to many people. There are some who even skip it deliberately for several days because it causes no obvious problems — when they have no symptom/ trouble without the pills, or start taking alternative medicine. General physicians are all too familiar with such cases.

Internal Medicine specialist Hemanth Kalakuntla said he has come across some patients with those non-communicable diseases (NCDs), who skip the medicines and try to trick doctors during consultations. “People with diabetes have to get their fasting and post-lunch blood glucose levels checked through tests before consulting a doctor. Some, who stop taking medicines, skip lunch and undergo post-lunch test so that their blood glucose levels does not reflect as being abnormally high. But we have our own ways to detect their situation,” he added.

Not sticking to medications for diabetes and hypertension, he said, could cause damage to eyes, kidneys, and worse, lead to brain stroke or heart attack.

Head of Critical Care department at Government Medical College, Nizamabad, Kiran Madhala and his team attend patients in ICUs. Some reasons that patients with the NCDs suffered from severe complications were that they did get their medicines dosage corrected, or did not make lifestyle changes, thereby worsening their condition.

“Some of the patients were just not aware that they had hypertension or diabetes,” said Dr Kiran, adding that everyone above the age of 30 years should get screened for the NCDs.

Assistant Professor of General Medicine at Osmania General Hospital, Pratibha Lakshmi said a significant per cent of emergency visits to hospitals are by people who stopped taking medicines for various diseases. “This is observed in diseases which require long-term compliance to medicines. Some of the diseases are diabetes, hypertension, tuberculosis, HIV, or diseases related to the heart or kidneys,” she explained.

When people stop taking medicines, they may suffer form health issues which is likely to necessitate complicated treatment, even surgery. Dr Pratibha said all of that could mean damage to health which brings down quality of life, and spending more money, which ultimately burden the patient and the family. The burden on healthcare increases too, she pointed out.

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