February 16, 2012

Is this for real?

Today I had my first ever encounter with a real NHS doctor. So far I have heard of them and always thought of them as a fictional character from some bad story. Today I met one!

I have had a very bad cough and fever for past one week. No over the counter medicine have been helping. So finally I made an appointment with local "Surgery" as they call the local government clinics. I met the doctor and that's how the conversation went:

"Hi, I am Dr B. How can I help you?"
"Hi, I am Richa. I have had a bad cough and fever for past week. I haven't been able to sleep due to coughing fits. For past two days I have been throwing up due to a coughing fit."
Dr. B: "What medicine have you been taking?"
Me: "Paracetmol and cough syrup and I have been gurggling."
Dr. B: "And I assume your voice has changed. This is not your normal voice, right?"
Me: "Yes, of course."
Dr. B: "Okay, let me examine your throat."

He examins the throat.

Dr. B: "Okay, it seems you have a viral infection."
Me: "Okay."
Dr. B: "There is no treatment for the viral infection. It usually goes away on its own."
Me: "Huh?"
Dr. B: "You should continue doing what you are doing and in few days it will go away."
Me: "Huh?"
Dr. B: "What do you want me to do? Give you antibiotics?"
Me: "Yes, please."
Dr. B: "Latest research shows that antibiotics have no effect on viral infections, only on bacterial infection. I can give you antibiotics but it will have no effect. You will feel better after taking antibiotics but it will not be because of antibiotics. Its the viral infection getting better by itself."

Me: "No problem. I will still take the antibiotics." Pause. "BTW, am I contagious to other people? Can I go to office without risking their health (not sure about UK but in US its a big issue. You shouldn't be interacting with other people if you are contagious.)?"

Dr. B: "Oh yes, viral infections are not contagious."

VIRAL INFECTIONS ARE NOT CONTAGIOUS! All I could do was stare him.

Don't take me wrong. I am not big fan of medicine and will avoid them as much as I can. I will actually avoid doctors as much as I can. My solution to most of the common fevers etc: Drink plenty of water and rest. Ocassionally take a paracetmol if fever is too much. That's all. But this infection was getting worse every day and I knew I needed help. I have been previously hospitalized due to a throat infection so didn't want to take that risk again.

Anyway, I finally got the antibiotics and have started the course. Hopefully my viral infection will get better by itself despite me taking antibiotic. I just had to write this incident down.

P.S.: 1. Due to recent sickness, February Photo-a-day was unsuccsessful. Will try something new soon...

2. BTW, Dr. B is an Indian or at least was born an Indian.


  1. If he's right and it IS a viral infection then (and most throat infections are viruses), no, anti-biotics will do nothing more than increase the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria out there.

    Anti-biotics kill bacteria, not viruses. Now if it's actually a bacterial infection it will work.

  2. It's true that antibiotics do nothing for viral infections. Generally, it's just a wait and watch and taking fluids, resting and paracetamol. On the other hand, they are still contagious, of course! 

  3.  A doctor recently told me we take symptomatic relief during cold and viral infections.

  4. Honestly I have no confidence in that guy's (I refuse to call him a doctor. He ain't qualified!) assessment but I am thankful for antibiotics. 

    I was throwing up due to cough for 2 days before I was given an appointment (I had been coughing for 10 days). I just couldn't cough anymore. My voice was completely gone. After just two dose of antibiotics, I was so much better. Now after 4 days, I feel so much better. No fever, some cough and sore throat. So whatever it was, antibiotics did work.

    Trust me, I wouldn't take medicine unless its absolutely necessary. I haven't taken any medicine in past 3.5 years. Not even pain killer or paracetamol. But I knew I needed some this time..

  5. Honestly, I don't know whether antibiotics work on viral infection or not but they worked on whatever I had like miracle drugs. I was in a very bad state when I went to the doctor (trust me, I wouldn't go to a doctor unless absolutely necessary. I don't like them as a general rule). I feel so much better. 

    That guy wasn't making any sense what-so-ever. He was simply blabbering something or the other. For some reason, UK government thinks it fit to pay him money. Actually scratch that, UK government thinks it fit to pay him my hard earned money. Wish I had some discretion over whom they spend my money on and the quality of employee they hire. 

  6. I have never in my life coughed so much that I throw up. Honestly. I was kind of scared when that started happening. I will take symptomatic relief when symptoms are this scary. Not able to breathe between coughing fits, gasping for air and throwing up. I will take medicine for symptomatic relief instead of being hospitalized at a later date...