What is self-medication and in what ways is it harmful to health?

What is Self-medication?
Self-medication is a practice in which patients consume medicines without the recommendation of a physician or a pharmacist.

When does a patient self-medicate?
  • A patient might be taking medicines from his old prescriptions.
  • A patient might be thinking that medicine will be suitable to cure a particular issue
  • He might have seen a friend or relative taking the same medicine for a similar disease or health issue.

This practice can lead to serious health issues and could be even fatal.




Why does a patient self-medicate?
There might be many reasons a patient might be practicing self-medication. A person might have more than one reason causing him to self-medicate. These are as follows:
  • Previous prescriptions for the same medical issue
  • Lack of money to visit a doctor
  • Time availability
  • Long distances and unavailability of a health facility
  • Fear of a doctor’s visit

Explanation of the reasons for self-medication

Previous or old prescription for the same medical issue
A patient might have a similar health problem as he assumes that the same medicine may resolve his problem.

For example, a person might have experienced an allergic reaction in previous times. Now, if he encounters some allergic reaction in his body, he will think it will be a good idea to use the old prescription from my experience rather than go to the physician again.

Lack of money to visit a doctor
Sometimes we might encounter a money crisis. We may not afford a visit to a doctor. We may not be able to pay a fee to the health practitioner. Sometimes medicines are out of our reach so we prefer to consume old purchased medicines from our wardrobe.


Time availability
When we are busy people and we cannot take a break from our work, we prefer to ignore our health issues and try to solve our health issues by self-medicating.

Long distance (from a hospital or a clinic) and unavailability of a health facility
A person might be living in a rural area and there may not be as many medical facilities. A patient might have left just one option and that is self-medication.

Fear of a doctor's visit
Sometimes a person might be afraid of a doctor’s visit. He might be avoiding going to the clinic or a hospital just because of his doctor's fever

How is self-medication dangerous to health?
Self-medication is a health concern. People are taking medicines without the recommendation of a valid physician all over the world. Over the counter Drugs may cause serious health problems as follows:
  • People may diagnose their health issues wrong. A patient may assume they are facing health issues similar to their reference issue.
  • People may choose the wrong medicines.
  • Patients may select the wrong dosage. They might need less quantity or more quantity of medicine.
  • The patient might have selected the wrong dosage form. One patient needs a liquid dosage form but the other a solid dosage form.
  • The wrong route of administration may be a mistake by a self-medicating patient. They might need an Intravenous route but might be taking it orally.
  • A patient may choose the wrong time to take a medicine. Many medicines are supposed to be taken before food. But some medicines need to be taken in between meals.

To conclude, it is better to consult a valid physician or a pharmacist rather than to self-medicate.

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