Kauvery Hospital | Patient Newsletters | The Danger Of Self Medication

India is the second most populous country in the world and it is estimated that there is only 1 doctor for every 1700 people in the country. The shortage of doctors and the difficulty in obtaining medical help is one of the leading causes of self-medication in the country.

Self-diagnosis and self-medication, even if done with the best of intentions, can be a very dangerous practice.

Among the potential risks are exacerbating a problem by consuming the wrong medicines, the dangers of adverse reactions or drug interactions, incorrect dosage or manner of administration, delay in seeking real medical advice, drug dependencies and the masking of a spreading medical conditions because of the consumption of the wrong medicines which only hide symptoms and do not cure.

We are becoming a nation of pill poppers. We take medicines as if we are eating sweets. The use of OTC (over-the-counter medications which can be bought without a doctor's prescription) medicines is becoming increasingly widespread because they are thought to be safe. People commonly take analgesics, cough syrups, laxatives, allergy medications without a second thought because they believe OTC medicines are risk free. What is often not appreciated is that self-medication can lead to drug dependency and in some cases, even addiction.

Unfortunately, there is almost no awareness of the dangers of self-medication. Because OTC medications can be bought by anyone, we presume that there is no risk to consuming them and never bother to check on their composition and the possible side effects. People self-medicate because since there is no need to go to a doctor ,the cost and time taken for visiting the doctor is not an issue and because since the medicine can be taken as soon as the symptom is noticed, it is expected that relief with be fast. However, when things go wrong, which they often do, self-medication can lead to multiple doctor's visits, serious damage to the health and in the worse cases, death.

Your doctor and pharmacist are a team. The doctor prescribes the medicines that are best for you, even for a minor medical problem. The pharmacist ensures that the medicines you receive are what the doctor has prescribed. They work in tandem to protect your health and keep you safe from the dangers of self-medication.

Article by Dr. Susovan Mitra
Consultat Intensivist and Academic Director in Emergency Medicine Department
Kauvery Hospital

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