Self medicating is use of medicine or drug by patient after self diagnoses of diseases or ailment. It often involved taking over the counter drugs and using them without consulting physician or seeking any medical advice.
But recent finding has confirmed that self medication can complicate the medical minor ailments and it can turn to be serious in many cases.
The instances where self medication practices can turn serious for practitioners are:
– wrong self diagnoses
– wrong method of self medication
– over dose of self medication
– dependence on particular drug for all medical ailments
– interaction of drugs
– taking strong dose of drug
– wrong choice of treatment
– poly pharmacy i.e use of more than two drugs by older patients
To understand the extent to which a patient should exercise the self medication, it is necessary to understand the benefits and risks of self medication. By comparing them, a patient can come to the right conclusion and can know the limits or extent of the right to self medication.
BENEFITS OF SELF MEDICATION
Inexpensive – patients can access the drugs for minor ailments without costly medical consultancy and keep their medical bills in check.
Empowerment – practice of self medication gives self knowledge to patients to treat themselves without going to physician. And it improves the response of a patient to get the medication.
Spreading medical infrastructure – increase in practices of self medication will indirectly lead to opening of more medical stores and public funded medical centres.
Reduces the gap of medical response – the correct self diagnoses patient can take medical help without loss of crucial time.
RISKS OF SELF MEDICATION
Complicating the minor ailment – wrong medicine can complicate the small problem.
Use of wrong drug – this is is result of wrong self diagnoses and then selecting drug which is not for that ailment.
Reaction of medication – chances of two different medicines reacting and causing serious complication is possible with self medicating.
Poly-pharmacy – this problems often happens in elders when they use two or more drugs in self medication practices. It affects 40% of elder patients. In western countries in patients over 65 years of age poly-pharmacy is serious issue as they suffer from more than one diseases and use of self medication practice increases their vulnerability.
LIMITS OF SELF MEDICATION
The minor cases where self medication can turn harmful are:
– anxiety or nervousness
– use of drugs to stabilize mood
– shyness or stuttering
– minor depression
– physical discomfort like stomach pain or tiredness
Self medication can turn serious in following ways:
1. Use of drugs and alcohol – The extreme effect of self medication is use or abuses of drugs for self soothing. This happens when a person takes helps of drugs (alcohols or banned drugs ) to hide the symptoms or get temporary relief from physical discomfort.
2. Addiction – In case of mental problems when a person feels better after self medication of banned drugs or alcohol, the chances of his coming back to self medication increases and this takes form of addiction. Here both emotionally and physically patient depends on the substances and self administrative use of these substances.
3. Becoming immune to treatment – And extreme case of self medication effect happens when a person becomes immune to treatments because of its over dependence on banned substances.
We can safely come to the conclusion that risks associated with self medication far outweigh the few benefits. So the best approach of any patient should be to consult a physician even in minor ailment.