Self medication is a human behaviour that involves consumption of drugs either for the diagnosis, prevention or mitigation of diseases.
Self medication is mostly done to improve wellbeing in minor conditions like fever, aches or weakness using over-the-counter drugs, but what if this triad is a symptom of a medical condition that normally does need immediate medical attention.(Self medication causing incorrect self-diagnosis)
In Africa self medication is a common practice due in part to the high cost of healthcare i.e the amount of money it takes to consult a physician may be unaffordable or swallow a fair amount of ones income. Apart from the cost, seeking a consult is likely to consume time because of the fact that in Africa, there is 1 Doctor to about 5,000 people which is far from the 1;1,000 doctor-population ratio promulgated by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Should this allow us consume drugs without physicianʼs advice?, NO
While our bodies look the same from the outside, that cannot be said of our genetic makeups, therefore what works for person A may not work for person B or even more worrisome cause some deleterious side effects in the later.
Other dangers of self medication may include
- Dangerous drug-drug or drug-food interaction
- Wrong dosage
- Wrong route of administration ( a drug meant for sublingual administration may be swallowed)
- Delay in seeking proper medical advice when needed which is dangerous
- Drug resistance
- Worsen disease or death
While self medication has some benefits like saving money from being wasted on minor health conditions, the risk in most cases outweighs the benefit.
How can self medication be prevented?, quite simple
- Use your medicines only as directed by physician
- Know that your medicament is for you and you alone, DO NOT SHARE with others
- Do not use another personʼs medication
- Keep your medicines properly to prevent third party usage
- Dispose off medicines you no longer use
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