Self medication has become a widespread epidemic across African societies, especially in Nigeria. But what exactly is self medication and what are the dangers associated with the practice? Have you ever self-medicated? Let’s delve into this issue as we consider the negative effects of self medication.
Self medication, in the simplest terms, is the use of drugs without a doctor’s prescription. Most Nigerians diagnose themselves with a medical or mental condition based on the symptoms they experience, and proceed to self-medicate without consulting a Medical Doctor or other health professionals.
Closely related to self medication are these terms “over the counter” or “non-prescription drugs”. These refer to drugs that can be purchased without prescription from a Medical professional, e.g. pain relievers,cold and allergy drugs and digestive aids.
Sadly, in Nigeria, these drugs can be sold anywhere imaginable: by the roadside,on the bus or even hawked.
4 Ways Self Medication can Harm You
Self medication poses several risks to human health and even their life. It can lead to substance addiction, unhealthy dependence on the drugs and, in severe cases, health complications and death. Why would anyone want to put themselves through such risks when they can easily get direct contact with a medical practitioner within a matter of minutes on the Liveldy app?
Let’s look at some of the outright effects of self medication on our health. After all, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
One of the most profound negative effects of self medication is antibiotic abuse or misuse. Antibiotics are potent medications for combating harmful bacteria in the body. However, it is important that one only takes them as recommended by medical professionals. When antibiotics are mis-used or overused, the microbes and bacteria they are meant to attack might become resistant, thereby making the antibiotics ineffective for treating those microbes.
Consistent abuse of antibiotics may make bacteria in your body resistant to even the strongest antibiotic medication. Situations like this usually culminate in serious medical complications.
People who self medicate tend to take improper drug dosages. There are two sides to this kind of drug misuse. Firstly, is the possibility of taking a lower dosage of the drugs which would fail to address the health situation or provide the expected relief or cure. On the other hand, taking drugs without a doctor’s guidance might lead to an overdose of the medication. Drug overdose exposes a person to extremely dangerous and life-threatening complications. It may also lead to severe and undesirable medication interactions and side effects. Always seek a doctor’s advice before using any medication.
Another awful outcome of self medication is that it increases the possibility of taking expired medication without realizing it. All medications have an expiry date, after which they become ineffective for treating ailments and unsuitable for human consumption. When a person consumes expired medication, the chances of the drugs having a serious adverse reaction on them become very high. Because most medications cause a medical reaction after expiration, it can be very dangerous if ingested by humans. Bottom line is- do not take drugs without consulting a doctor.
Undiagnosed Medical Condition
Another problem associated with self medication is that one might have an underlying medical condition or disorder which causes them to react to certain medications. So if you take drugs without the supervision of a health practitioner, you just might be aggravating a medication condition you are unaware of. Such situations may result in severe symptoms or health complications.
Other harmful effects of self-medication include drug addiction, allergy, habituation, worsening of ailment, incorrect diagnoses and dosage, or even disability and premature death.