The easy access to health related information over the internet has done more damage than good for our citizens at large…
This has led to people relying on available medical advise and information through virtual doctors ( often bot controlled) using mobile applications and sourced information depending on symptoms listed.
Increasing urbanisation, easy availability of medicines, rise in the fees of doctors and the lack of time to visit doctors, are the commonly touted reasons for people to resort to the dangerous practice of self medication.
According to a report, “self-medication in India has doubled from 23 per cent in 2006 to 41 per cent in 2016, according to a study carried out across 22 centres in the country where consumers, doctors and chemists were interviewed.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-medication as a run through by which a human being selects and uses medicines to treat signs/symptoms or minor health problems, recognized as such by themselves.
“Medication and health care today costs are spiraling,” says Puneet Singh, a shop-owner. “Medical services are far from cheap today. However, there are various provisions that the government have made for the unprivileged and it is the middle-class who often feel the brunt. Sometimes, people can work around this and find a Canadian Pharmacy to help them, however.
“With every consultation, the monthly budget takes a hit and if there is a medical emergency, medical claims and insurance are the first things that comes to the forefront..
In such situations, it is obvious that people will resort to any means to save money. Here, self-treatment, medical applications, websites, local pharmacists and doctors in the family, come to the rescue.
It is inevitable that some of these money saving tricks can be life threatening, yet, not everyone can afford a doctor,” Singh adds.
Dr Roshan Palresha, Head of Emergency Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital however thinks that while self-medication may seem to deliver good results and be useful for the patient, it can also cause serious health risks.
“Problems such as bacterial resistance, dependence, digestive bleeding, antibiotic resistance, tolerance, hypersensitivity, drug withdrawal symptoms, adverse reactions, as well as increased risk of neoplasia are all possible outcomes.
“In addition to these risks, it should be highlighted that the momentary relief of symptoms may actually mask the underlying disease or cause of disease. The indiscriminate use of medicines can also increase the chances of intoxication.”
According to the National System of Toxic-Pharmacological Information; medicines are the 2nd-most frequent causative agents of intoxication in humans.
“In developing countries like India where we have poor economic status, education status as well as poor healthcare facilities, people have limited knowledge regarding the risks associated with their self-medication of antibiotics.
“Hence, it is recommended that a holistic approach be taken to prevent this problem, which includes proper awareness and education regarding self-medication and greater checks on pharmaceutical advertising.
Dispensing modes need to be improved through proper awareness and strict regulatory norms to make health care easily accessible and cost-effective,” adds Dr Palresha.
HAZARDS OF SELF MEDICATION (Individual level)
Failure to inquire about suitable medical advice promptly
Inaccurate choice of therapy
Failure to recognize unusual pharmacological risks
Uncommon but severe adverse effects
Fail to diagnosis of contraindications, interactions, warnings and precautions
Fail to distinguish that the same active substance is already being taken under a different name
Fail to report recent self-medication to the prescribing physician which might lead to double medication (harmful interaction)
Fail to recognize or report adverse drug reactions
Incorrect route of administration
Excessively prolonged use
Risk of dependence and abuse
Food and drug interaction
Storage in incorrect conditions or beyond the recommended shelf life.
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