Self-medication is the use of medicine to treat common health problems by individuals after recognizing and consequently diagnosing themselves based on the symptoms they are experiencing. Furthermore, medical supervision is not required since this practice is agreed to be effective and safe. Usually, medications often used for self-medication are referred to as over the counter (OTC) or nonprescription, and do not need a doctor’s prescription to access them since they can be easily accessible in pharmacies.
There are several benefits associated with proper self-medication, and this includes the patient actively being involved in their health, increased access to medicines, thereby bringing the patient relief as well as efficiently using the services of pharmacists and physicians.
Reasons to Self-Medicate
Nowadays, consumers prefer to self-medicate because they want a more significant role in maintaining their health and often are knowledgeable enough to manage on their own in treating recurring and chronic infections. All that is needed is an appropriate diagnosis by a doctor on how to use the medication.
Additionally, patients nowadays feel it is not entirely necessary always going to the doctor’s office, and all they need is adequate information thereby reducing the inconvenience.
Benefits of Self-Medication
At a Personal Level
- It is very convenient for minimizing the bother of always visiting the doctor’s office.
- Ensures you play an active role in your health
- Freedom in the prevention or relieving of minor ailments.
- Allows you to get informed on specific health issues.
- Due to a reduction in medical consultations, you get to save a lot of money.
At the Community Level
- The cost of community sponsored health care programs is considerably minimized.
- Health care to individuals living in remote or rural regions is increased.
- In cases where medical personnel are inadequate, self-medication helps in reducing the pressure on the delivery of medical services.
- It minimizes absenteeism from work as a result of experiencing minor symptoms.
- Scarce medical resources can now be used on major medical conditions only.
Types of Diseases Treatable with Self-Medication
There exist numerous health ailments which require minimal or no supervision from a medical expert, and usually, these are infections that have no or little risk of permanent injury.
Below are several common diseases that can be treated using self-medication, and they include;
- Diarrhea or constipation
- A cough, cold and allergic rhinitis
- Hair loss
- Motion Sickness
- Vaginal thrush
- Topical fungal disease
- Smoking cessation
- Minor Wounds
- Dry eyes and conjunctivitis
Nevertheless, in case the symptoms continue after one to two weeks, you must stop the self-medication and immediately consult a medical professional.
What You Must Know About the Medicine While Self-Medicating
Clearly understanding your medicine allows you to practice effective and safe self-medication, and this should be the case whether you are taking medication prescribed by the doctor or self-medicating. You can do this in two ways, by either consulting a health care expert or carefully reading the patient information leaflet and labels.
Moreover, not having accurate information may result in drug-supplement, drug-drug or drug-food interactions, under or over dosage as well as experiencing the risk of adverse drug reactions.Below is some crucial information you should carefully inspect;
- The warnings and side effects of the medication
- Name of the active ingredients in the medicine
- The brand name of the drug
- How the medicine works and its use
- Any side effect as a result of the medication’s interaction with supplements, other drugs or food.
- How to appropriately use the medicine
- How to properly store the medicine
Potential Risks of Self-Medications
- There is a risk of developing a dependency on a drug as a result of self-medicating, and quitting may prove to be quite tricky.
- Incorrectly diagnosing yourself consequently leading to severe bodily reactions.
- Chances of excessive or inadequate dosing might result in self-medication not helping you recover from your illness.
- Chances of developing severe adverse effects despite being rare is a possibility.
- Since you lack a medical expert’s advice, chances of extending the dosage increase significantly.
- Incorrect storage of the medicine which might subsequently result in you experiencing adverse effects.
- Inability to identify and report to a healthcare specialists severe drug reaction.
- Getting a prescription from a medical doctor and not informing them of your self-medication might result in harmful interactions between two drugs or double medication.
Self-medication is a great concept; however, it requires a lot of discipline as well as adequate knowledge on what to do and what not to do to prevent you from experiencing severe side effects and getting addicted to the drug. Additionally, most people find themselves lacking the information about the side-effects of an overdose, appropriate dosage and time of taking medicine thus making self-medication detrimental to them.
It is mainly the case in less developed countries which have a poor economic status, inadequate health facilities and most of its citizens are not highly educated, therefore making self-medication is such regions not advisable. Nevertheless, for the more developed nations which have a population that is more enlightened, a stable healthcare system and is economically strong, individuals in the country can self-medicate.
However, continued efforts by health professionals have been put in place to educate people in the developing nations about self-medication and gradually more people can self-medicate as expected.