Hello Everyone, how have you been, especially healthwise? I hope everything is going on well. Keeping a blog isn’t easy, I must confess. Let me just blame it on the government (jokes). Actually, with the constant supply of no light in our country, high cost of living (internet bills), insecurities and what-nots, our hope is all we have got until we decide to change. Well, that’s not why I’m here today.
I believe many of us have had cause to use the drug popularly known as ‘Flagyl®’, although variants like ‘Flagin‘, ‘Flygyl‘, and ‘Vagin‘ (yes, I have seen someone spell it like that), exist. Most Nigerians believe they have a license to eat all sorts because their savior, Flagyl® is always on hand to rescue them from making a huge mess of themselves in public.
Take for example, this story. I was in my senior secondary school years, and was using a very popular bus transport service back to school, Ibadan to be precise. As a ground rule, whenever I am traveling by road, I don’t eat any solid meal after 6.30am because I develop very terrible motion sickness, plus there might be the urge to do the ‘big thing’ along the way. With these public transport services in Nigeria, you are on your own when it comes to such matters because if everybody is given permission, our journey may never be completed. Anyway, let me get on to the main story.
I was sitting behind two women in their fifties. As we boarded and settled, they had coolers of food which they started devouring before we even started moving. This particular transport service gives breakfast to passengers before traveling, and that day wasn’t any different. I noticed that these women on receiving the food, opened them immediately and started eating. I was taken aback but I thought maybe they were just released from a refugee camp, or they were ignorant that the bus just had facilities for urinating, and when it comes to stopping the bus for a passenger to defecate, the officials no ‘dey look uche face‘. I couldn’t help but to listen to their conversation (not just me though, they were so loud that 35 buses behind us could hear them), and I overheard one of them asking the other if she brought ‘Flagin‘ along, to which the answer was in a local western parlance, ‘Beeni now, mi o use Flagyl seere lai lai‘, meaning, ‘Yes now, I don’t joke with Flagyl for any reason‘. I wished them well and tried to make myself comfortable for the journey.
All the stops we made – buying fuel at Gwagwalada, picking up some passengers at Abaji (where they bought akara and it wasn’t even 10am yet), and stopping for lunch at Lokoja, these women feasted. As we approached Osun state, there was a slight traffic jam, and hawkers flocked the bus selling their wares, including a type of spiced diced plantain popularly known as “dodo ikire“. These women literally jumped for joy at the sight and bought quite a number. It wasn’t long before I heard muffled noises and as glanced their way, one of them was wincing in pain and began to make her way to the convenience in the bus.
Some 30 minutes later, the bus was filled with a stench that could only be described as a fulminating concoction of rotting eggs and fish garnished with bitter leaves. This woman, in her desperation and for want of avoiding public embarrassment, went ahead to defecate in the urinal obviously meant for urination only. As a result, it wouldn’t flush and the whole thing got out of control… its better imagined than spelt out. It was a scandal. The bus conductor, on finding out, made it a point of duty to call her all sorts of derogatory names, and threatened to expel her from the bus for endangering our lives. I, along with many others, did not feel sorry for this woman because she deserved every minute of embarrassment she got. Plus, she was disappointed by Flagyl®, her stomach savior and defender of her intestines.
I have had the experience of coming in contact with patients in the community Pharmacies and even in the Hospitals where people are assumed to be more enlightened, and on interaction, most of them believe that Flagyl® is the one-stop solution for stomach upsets. Well, that is wrong. If you are part of that bandwagon, you are not only wasting your time, you are also increasing the likelihood of obtaining adverse effects and promoting the development of organisms resistant to Flagyl®.
What is Flagyl®? It is just a brand name by Sanofi-Aventis, a notable pharmaceutical company. Its active component is Metronidazole, which simply put, is a nitroimidazole antibiotic medication used particularly against infections caused by anaerobes and protozoa. An anaerobic organism or anaerobe is any organism that does not require oxygen for growth. It could possibly react negatively and may even die if oxygen is present. Anaerobic microbes include Bacteroides fragilis spp, Fusobacterium spp, Clostridium spp, Peptostreptococcus spp, while Protozoal species include Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia lamblia, and Trichomonas vaginalis.
There are several causes of stomach ache, including Indigestion, Constipation, Stomach flu, Food poisoning, Menstrual Cramps, Food allergies, Gas and Lactose intolerance. The surprising news is that none of these conditions can be treated with Flagyl®, except for food poisoning caused by anaerobic and/or protozoal infections. Therefore in most cases, the use of Flagyl® is not warranted. As I mentioned earlier, its unnecessary and incessant use can cause a plethora of adverse effects including development of neutropenia, increased risk of peripheral neuropathy and/or CNS toxicity.
Metronidazole is listed by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) as reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen. A carcinogen is any substance that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer. Although some of the testing methods have been questioned, oral exposure has been shown to cause cancer in experimental animals. Metronidazole is listed as a possible carcinogen according to the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). All these medical jargon point to the fact that Flagyl® is not an antidote for any sort of stomach pain.
If you are experiencing some sort of stomach ache, it’s important to know the cause, at least try to. It could be something unwholesome that you ate or drank, and it is wrong to assume that taking Flagyl® is the solution to the problem. Rather than continuing to ingest such substances, because Flagyl® is available in your bag, its best to stop at once.
If you are feeling constipated, you could drink extra water (more than your normal intake), drink warm liquids, and eat more fruits and vegetables. If you believe you have food poisoning, self treatment is not the best. Most cases of food poisoning go away on their own in several days, but if the condition is persistent or severe you should see a doctor. If a particular food you are eating is causing you repeated stomach pain or discomfort, you may have a food allergy. There is no way to cure food allergies, so the best way to avoid a reaction is to strictly avoid the allergy-causing foods. What of a feeling of excess gas?
Traditionally, one of the top recommendations, including from the American College of Gastroenterology, to keep gas to a minimum is to identify gas-forming foods in your diet, then avoid or reduce them. Foods that are considered to be increase gas discomfort include Beans and Cabbage. Do away with or reduce the frequency of these foods in your diet, and save yourself from producing biological weapons of destruction.
You mean to tell me I just farted? Oh my…
After all said, eating should be done in moderation, especially when out of the convenience of a home. Your date took you to a Chinese restaurant and you have never eaten Chinese before? Instead of choosing Sesame Chicken mixed with Lettuce Wraps, in collaboration with Peking Duck dipped in Wonton Soup, all stirred in Hot and Sour soup, respect yourself and stick to good old rice and fried chicken or something familiar. Apart from the embarrassment your running stomach may cause you, you also risk being dumped because you would have succeeded in wasting some poor dude’s money. Better still, suggest that he takes you to Mama Delta or Jevenik restaurant, or somewhere you would be comfortable in. Don’t dull yourself.
Well I hope you have learnt a thing or two…on a lighter note, have your stomach caused you any embarrassing moment(s)? I would love to hear about it. Still feel free to ask questions and drop comments.
Until my next post, stay safe.