Nowadays, everyone feels like they have the qualities of a doctor. And hence, they often resort to self-medication. ‘Bad stomach? I know the pill for it!’ ‘Pain in the abdomen? It’s probably just acidity!’ While health issues like cough, cold, and fever can be treated at home, at times, the health issue at hand may be much bigger for which, visiting a doctor is an absolute must. The doctor is the only one who can give you a complete diagnosis of your situation and provide you with guidance regarding the steps you can take going forward, to enhance the healing process.
Self-medication is harmful due to a number of reasons. A study by Psychology Today explains that individuals tend to act as their own physicians in an attempt to handle the symptoms of the physical or mental health concern involved with it. A lot of times they want to hide their condition since going to the doctor may come across as a sign of weakness. Sometimes, they are scared or embarrassed, and at times, they simply want to avoid the expenses of getting the diagnosis of the problem from a professional. Truth is, self-medication can ruin a person’s life, the lives of others around him/her and can end up making the original situation much worse than it was.
Some of the important dangers of self-medication are:
Wrong Drug Dosage
When you decide to prescribe drugs for yourself, there is no one to tell you the right dosage for the pills you are using. Even if you have got the drug right, factors such as the dosage of the drug, how it needs to be taken, its composition and its side-effects or reactions, if any, also need to be considered. Ignorance and lack of awareness when it comes to these things can cause serious problems and can also lead to a fatality. According to a study by the non-profit group, Trust for America’s Health, nearly 52% of deaths were related to prescription drug overdoses where the patients did not even know that they have taken an overdose.
Many medicines tend to have side effects on your body. When you go to a physician, he gives you appropriate drugs to counter those effects and stabilize your body. He prescribes medicines keeping in mind your body type, your diet, your daily routine, etc. Self-medication, on the other hand, can lead to severe side effects such as allergic reactions, loose stools, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
One of the major things that can go wrong when you resort to self-medication is the wrong diagnosis of the disease at hand. You may be suffering from some specific symptoms and will link those to a disease that you know of. You will end up taking the medicines for it but that probably will not work. This can complicate simple situations and also make it difficult for the doctor to correctly diagnose and treat your situation at later stages.
Self-medication for Pregnant Women
This one could probably be the most dangerous kind of self-medication. Wrong moves or intake of unfamiliar drugs could cause birth defects and congenital anomalies in the child. What the mother consumes during the pregnancy stage directly affects the child so it is very important that they find out all the information about the particular drug that they are consuming. Visiting a physician and taking his recommendations for the medicines would be the best way to go about it.
Addiction to the Wrong Drug
A lot of times, there are cases wherein a patient is taking a wrong drug and gets addicted to it. This is especially true in the case of medical conditions such as depression where the doses of the drug are very high and cause severe effects. If you are following self-medication, there is no one who can reassess the prescription for you. Strong pills and their overdose can lead to severe problems or even death. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 33,175 people died in 2012 due to an unintentional drug overdose.
Masking the Symptoms of a Serious Condition
The route of self-medication may also cause the patients to overlook the symptoms of a serious condition that they may be suffering from. For example, a patient may be suffering from a condition such as pneumonia but may pass it off as a case of the flu. At times, people tend to take this route to save themselves the embarrassment of being the victim of a serious disease. However, this is very harmful and the most inappropriate way of dealing with the problem.
Alternately, there are times when people tend to adopt the route of telemedicine. A lot of times, this may prove to be fruitful since it reduces the hassle of visiting the doctor in person and thus saves time and money. But where does the credibility come in? With so many portals offering medical advice, there are a lot of cases of spam and frauds. The advising authority may not have the right knowledge or skills to guide you with the best possible treatment. Carelessness and lack of precision from their end could lead to devastating results and also a case of fatality. When you are looking for doctors offering telemedicine, look for the credibility of the doctors and the portals which offer this service.
Don’t take your health very lightly. Always remember, Google is not your doctor – avoid self-medication. Always consult a doctor for the smallest of health issue. After all, the preservation of health is always easier than a cure of the disease.