Self-Medication: dangers and side-effects
Dr Rana Sanjay, renowned, Physician at INDIA said Self-medication has been defined as the use of medication (modern and/or traditional) for self-treatment without consulting a physician either for diagnosis, prescription, or surveillance of treatment . It involves obtaining medication without prescription and taking medicines on advice of and from friends and relatives. Self-medication is common in both developed and developing countries but higher in developing countries, due to wider increase of drug availability without prescription . Self-medication increases the possibility of drug abuse and drug dependency. It also masks the signs and symptoms of underlying diseases, hence complicating the problem, creating drug resistance, and delaying diagnosis . Self-medication has been reported to be on the rise globally . The World Health Organization (WHO) emphasized that self-medication must be correctly taught and controlled in other to avoid drug-related issues such as antimicrobial resistance which is now a current problem worldwide particularly in developing countries where antibiotics are often available without a prescription .
Dr Rana Sanjay ( LIONS CLUB Co. DC Health and hygiene) said:roll_eyes: Dangers of Self Medicating Without Doctor Consultation:cry:
Medicines are truly a wonderful invention that has saved billions of lives all over the world. Medicines can treat almost any health condition known to man and can help relieve a variety of symptoms like pain and itchiness. Medications have gone a long way from the use of mere plants and herbs to synthetic drugs that are now widely used.
<b>Over the Counter (OTC) and Prescription Drugs</b>
Some medicines can be bought over the counter but some need a prescription from a doctor. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration regulates the sale of medicines by deciding whether or not it is safe enough to be sold without a prescription. Over the counter medicines are less likely to lead to abuse but these are still considered to carry some risks. Such medicines may interact with other drugs, supplements, and even food and it can also be harmful to individuals with preexisting health conditions.
Prescription drugs, on the other hand, need a medical prescription from a doctor before it can be bought from the pharmacy. A prescription drug is intended for a single, specific person. It is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration through the New Drug Application or NDA process. The drug sponsor needs to submit different data about a medicine before it can be approved by the FDA including effects of the drug in animals and humans and the process involved in its production. Prescription medicines are more likely to lead to abuse.
<b>What is Self Medication?</b>
Self medication refers to the use of medicines by an individual to treat symptoms and conditions without doctor consultation. Although self medication can offer several benefits such as reduced costs associated with doctor consultation and faster relief of symptoms, it is not a safe practice and can cause more harm than good to one’s health.
<b>The Negative Effects of Self Medication</b>
Without doctor consultation, it is easy to misdiagnose a condition for something else entirely. A wrong self-diagnosis can lead to wrong medicines and wrong medicines can cause the wrong effects on the body. Aside from misdiagnosis of a condition, self medication without doctor consultation can mask the symptoms of a severe condition and delay medical attention. There is also the possibility of taking the wrong route for medicine as in the case of swallowing it orally when it is supposed to be used sublingually or put under the tongue. Self medication is also likely to lead to wrong drug dosages, especially when the medicine dosage should be based on the weight of an individual.
Taking medications without proper medical consultation can also lead to drug interactions. Some drugs react negatively when taken together with certain medicines. Some medications also counter the effect of certain drugs such as in the case of doxycycline and penicillin. Doxycycline decreases the effectiveness of penicillin when taken at the same time. Some drugs may also interact with other medicine, supplements, and food and increase the likelihood of experiencing severe side effects such as in the case of aspirin and alcohol. A person taking aspirin should not drink alcohol as this can increase the risk of bleeding in the stomach.
Self medication also increases the potential for drug abuse and addiction. Physical dependence on medicines is probably one of the most serious health implications of self medication. Some medicines like antidepressants, stimulants, and pain relievers can produce the same effect as illicit drugs especially when taken in increased quantities.
Prompt doctor consultation is still the best solution rather than self-diagnosing your condition. Doctors have years of training and experience and are the best people to give you advice regarding your health.
But with mothers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles and of course, pados-wali aunty, who needs doctors? Yes, we are regularly advised to have random tablet/capsule/syrup for any ailment, and sadly, we end up doing so. In fact, such is the case that people prescribe doses of antibiotics and other powerful drugs by themselves, never bothering to consult the doctor. Unfortunately, self-medication has increased many health issues.
What are the threats of self-medication?
Self-medication is okay to many of us. Its just a crocin or some ‘safe’ antibiotic we believe we are ingesting as going to the doctor can be time consuming and expensive. But there are side-effects to this and very harmful ones at that.
The idea of self-medication even for small health issues can lead to complications. People tend to pop pills as they are popping candies. Medicines such as pain relief drugs, cough syrups, laxatives, antibiotics, anti-allergy medicines, vitamins and even antacids. And because these are OTC drugs, i.e., over the counter meds, these are easier to acquire. But what we do not realize is that opting for self-medication makes us prone to allergies, drug-dependence, and even addiction.
Unfortunately, there is very little or almost no awareness about the disadvantages of self-medication. Sadly, we still go ahead and take doses randomly and don’t even check the composition of the medicine and are clueless about the side-effects of these on our body.
Side effects of self-medication
Popping pills may get us instant relief but what we don’t realize is that it is not free of side-effects. At times, a patient may be under prescribed medication for different health issues, and self-medicating may lead to adverse reactions. This is because one drug may react differently when consumed with another drug. This can even lead to death. Hence, consulting a doctor is a must.
A massive problem with self-medication is that we do not know about its dosage. This means we often underestimate its strength and the less said, the better about its composition. We have a clue as to how the drug should be taken, its side-effects and even reactions. Ignorance is not bliss in this case.
People take to self-medication because it is instant, and of course, there is no expense of the doctor. But when eventually, they suffer from severe health issues, their medical expense increases two-fold. Self-medication as a habit can damage one’s health irrevocably, causing disabilities and even premature death.