08 SEPTEMBER 2018

5 reasons why self medicating could be doing you more harm than good

Many of us are guilty of self medication, especially when it comes to common ailments. But do you know how dangerous it can be!

Pill popping is increasingly becoming widely prevalent. Our hectic lives, stressful conditions, competition at work or business etc. is taking a toll on our health. As a result, headaches, heartburn, insomnia, allergies etc. have become common ailments affecting a majority of the population. And how do we generally overcome these? Well, we decide to self medicate! The easy availability of information online only makes this easier. But there’s a reason it’s left to the doctors to prescribe medicines. Our limited awareness of the field of medicine can prove to do us more harm than good when we self-medicate, even proving fatal in certain cases!

Common reasons for self medication:

No time to visit a doctor

Inability to get an appointment immediately

Unnecessary tests ordered by the doctor can be time-consuming and expensive

Information from the internet makes one confident about treating their own illness

Non-availability of doctors

Unaffordable doctor's fees

Home remedies

Easy availability of over-the-counter medicines

Here are some ways in which you could harm your body through self-medication

1. Wrong diagnosis of the illness

A minor ailment that can be resolved easily with the doctor's advice may pose a serious problem over time. The symptoms of the condition may reduce temporarily with self medication, but it might become difficult for a physician to correctly diagnose the condition later and treat it.

2. Habituation

It is possible that a person gets addicted to prescription medicines such as cough syrups, pain relievers and antacids. Regular misuse of these drugs can have adverse effects on the body. For instance, excessive intake of vitamins can lead to vitamin poisoning.

3. Allergies

Certain antibiotics such as sulpha drugs and penicillin can lead to severe reactions, and some can even be fatal. Drugs do not act based on just the active ingredients, but also on the particular characteristics of the person who takes them.

Someone who has had an operation will react to aspirin very differently than someone without an operation. Again, daily intake of aspirin can lead to ulcers in some people.

4. Incorrect dosage

When self medicating, you may not be aware of the correct dosage of the drug, the strength of the same, its composition, side effects and the method of consumption. Insufficient medicine dosages will not only not cure an ailment, but can prolong its recovery. Over dosage, on the other hand, can cause organ failure.

So, it’s best to know the right medicine and dosage for any ailment from the doctor rather than doing random guess work, since it can even cost you your life!

5. Higher risk of stroke

One of the most commonly popped pills by most people is painkillers. The bigger problem is that most people tend to self-medicate when it comes to seemingly harmless aches in the body such as headache, stomach etc.

However, this can lead to gastritis and increase the risk of stroke by as much as four times if you are suffering from high BP.

6. Lethal cocktail of drugs

When you self medicate, you run the risk of having a cocktail of medicines that could react with each other and have an adverse effect on the body. If you are already taking medicines for a different medical condition, self-medication pills can cause an adverse reaction. Certain components in a drug could react differently to other medicines and this can even prove fatal.

7. Adverse effects on fetus in case of pregnancy

If a pregnant woman takes medicines indiscriminately, it could have an adverse effect on the unborn child and can even lead to birth defects and congenital abnormalities. Although medicines are intended to cure the disease for which they are prescribed, they can have several and severe side effects. Doctors usually inform the patients about the side effects before prescribing a drug. People should therefore avoid self administering medicines if they do not have proper information.

Side effects of some of the common drugs

Antibiotics - Allergic reactions to antibiotics are not uncommon. It can lead to sudden incapacitation. It can also cause photosensitivity reactions, rashes and urticaria. Some antibiotics can lead to bone marrow toxicity. This can in turn lead to decreased resistance and anemia.

Pain relieving medicines - Most of these medicines have been shown to cause serious untoward effects, especially when consumed on an empty stomach or together with alcohol. For instance, aspirin can cause serious bleeding in the intestines and stomach. Also, it can cause vertigo, and even deafness with prolonged use.

Anti-allergic drugs - Anti-allergic medicines are generally used to provide relief from cough, running nose, cold or itching. The adverse effects of these medicines include depression, dizziness and drowsiness among others.

Nasal drops - Often we tend to use nasal drops whenever there we have trouble breathing. What most of us don’t know is that the lining inside the nostrils is richly supplied with blood and when you use the nasal drops, it quickly finds its way to the blood and leads to side effects such as nervousness, visual disturbances, palpitation and tremors.

Sedatives - These medicines are known to dull the senses. Prolonged usage of such medicines can lead to a wide range of ailments, and therefore, they should be avoided, unless prescribed by a doctor.

Conclusion

Being aware of the dangers of self-medication can help prevent a lot of stress and suffering. Only an ignorant person will pop a pill without the expert advice of a doctor for any ailment, big or small.

It is important to note that owing to self medication, even a minor health problem that can be resolved easily by consulting a doctor can become a major health issue over time. So, no matter what health issue you face, be it a cold, chronic fatigue, recurring headache or stomach ache, it’s best to head to a doctor’s clinic to seek proper medical advice.