Self-medication, defined as the habit of taking medication on your own without consulting a doctor, is a common habit among Brazilians and has increased due to the increased use of social networks. Decide to take a analgesic for headache or an antihistamine for allergic conditions without monitoring by a professional it is not seen as a problem among people. The habit of self-medicating is even a very common attitude among hypochondriacs due to the constant fear of getting sick.
But the truth is that self-medication, when it becomes frequent, ends up becoming a great health hazard, and can even affect longevity. This is because the drugs normally used to treat a symptom can mask a disease, which can often start out small and become serious over time. To warn about the risks and how to avoid self-medication, the Care for Life spoke with the general practitioner Roberto Debski. See what he said on the subject!
What is self-medication?
At first, self-medication may even seem like a harmless act, but it is capable of harming health in the future. In some cases, taking medicine on your own, without consulting a specialist, does not cause problems. When experiencing a headache due to a tiring day, for example, it’s ok to use a painkiller. The big question is when this nuisance starts to become frequent and, instead of looking for a doctor, the patient continues using the medicine as a quick way to get rid of the pain. Another problem is taking medicines that require a prescription without medical advice, such as antibiotics.
According to Dr. Roberto, this attitude is a real risk to the health and well-being of many people: “If we already know that iatrogenesis – damage caused by medications prescribed by doctors – is one of the biggest factors of illness in the world, what to think of people who self-medicate? How much damage to health can people suffer who imagine they are being treated when, in reality, they are putting themselves more at risk than they imagine?”.
What is a hypochondriac person?
A hypochondriac is that person who is very concerned about his health and thinks he is very sick all the time, even in the face of simple symptoms, such as sneezing and coughing. He often self-medicates because he does not trust the word of a specialist. It is important that this person seek psychological help to treat this condition and stop the habit of taking medication on their own.
The general practitioner warns that the safest way to use drugs is to only take them after receiving medical advice: “This way, we can find out which drugs and which doses are specifically indicated for you, taking into account your medical history, health conditions, metabolism, anthropometric data, diagnosis, protocols and prognosis”.
Why is self-medication so common?
Self-medication is the fastest and most affordable way to get rid of a temporary problem such as pain, cold, gastritis, allergy or any other seemingly simple health symptom to be resolved. Many people believe that it is better to go to the pharmacy or keep a box with some medicines at home for everyday life and take some medication when feeling bad than to go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room to find out the cause of your symptoms. Many people do not understand the risks that self-medication can cause and, wanting to quickly solve a health problem, they put their own bodies at risk and, sometimes, even offer medicines to others.
Doctor explains the risks of self-medication
Dr. Roberto again highlights the dangers of this habit: “A medication that has not been prescribed can do much more harm than good due to the risk of being inadequate, having the wrong dose, not being indicated for the disease in question or having contraindications for that patient.” The general practitioner details some harms of self-medication:
- Treat only the symptoms and cover up the cause or true illness. A very common example is covering up a tumor by using pain medicine;
- taking a dose or type of medication that is harmful to that person;
- be contraindicated causing more health problems;
- generate side effects, such as a heart attack, for example;
- postponing the search for a doctor, increasing the severity of a problem that was previously simple;
- cause drug overdose intoxication;
- bring a false sense of security of being treated when you are not.
So remember: tIt is ok to take medication for specific and isolated symptoms, but if the pain or any other symptom that affects your health is constant or is very worrying, seek a doctor to receive a complete and accurate diagnosis. The same alert goes for when the medicine needs a prescription. Always take care of your health to live well!
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