Why not? 6 important reasons for NOT to self-medicate
In times like these when it is not advisable to go out and expose ourselves to infections, the temptation may arise or the need to resort to medicines available in our homes for the relief of discomfort, or listen to the advice of friends, neighbors or family members about taking any remedy which was effective for them. Whether it’s relieving stomach pain or a migraine, contingency emotional disturbances, or treating chronic illness, and others, self-medication has MANY dangers.
468/5000 What is self-medication? In short, it is to take a remedy (medication), whether prescribed by prescription or over-the-counter, without first consulting a health professional to evaluate the particular case of the patient and define a diagnosis > for which you deliver a prescription with the name of the medication, directed for the sole use of that patient for the symptoms table for which you are consulting and valid for a limited time.
It is difficult to compare how prone we Chileans are to self-medicate compared to other countries, however, in November 2019 the Institute of Public Health revealed the results of a study that quantified notifications of adverse drug reactions between 2014 and 2018 , attributing 273 to Amoxicillin, 224 to Ciprofloxacin, 68 to Azithromycin and 51 to Cefadroxil.
On the other hand, according to the National Health Survey 2016/2017 of the Ministry of Health, 40% of the geriatric population (65 years or older) in Chile consumes 5 or more medications on a regular basis , including antihypertensive drugs that are our subject of study at CENDHY.
Here we list the 6 big NO of self-medication :
1. INCORRECT DOSE
The dose of a drug is the amount necessary to produce the indicated pharmacological effect. This amount is specific and allows the concentration of the active ingredient in the body to be adequate for a limited time. For this reason it is important to administer the amount indicated by the medical specialist and respect the established schedules to consume the medication.
542/5000 When determining the dose, the patient’s physiological conditions must be considered, such as age, immunocompromised status (autoimmune diseases, patients with severe burns, among others), in women: pregnancy, lactation or menopause; and chronic cardiovascular, kidney or liver diseases. For this reason You should NOT use the medicine that another person uses and that has been effective , even if it is in the same dose and schedule. The health consequences can be very serious.
If the dose is less than the person requires to alleviate their symptoms or illness, the medication is inefficient . If the dose is greater than that which has been shown to be effective according to the manufacturer, an overdose may occur, generating toxicity, discomfort and even death.
The Swiss alchemist, doctor and astrologer, Theophrastus Philippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim, better known as Paracelsus , wrote: “All substances are poisons, there is none that is not. The dose differentiates a poison from a remedy. “
2. Adverse effects:
Medicines are made up of biologically active molecules that recognize a specific site of action and generate the desired pharmacological effect. Despite this specificity , the components of a drug can also interact with other sites in the body, and have the same or a different action. This triggers side and adverse effects .
For this reason, you must strictly follow medical indications when prescribing a medication, this minimizes the probability of experiencing side effects and adverse effects, which generally manifest as physical discomfort strong>, but they can also cause organ or tissue damage and go unnoticed. If a medication is not indicated by a medical professional after a review, it should NOT be consumed.
3. Hiding or delaying a more serious diagnosis:
Medications exert their specific pharmacological effect, alleviating specific symptoms or contributing to the comprehensive treatment of a disease, but they can also have nonspecific activities (side effects) . In some cases, administering a medication has the side effect of relief of a symptom associated with an undiagnosed disease.
For example: it is common for boys and girls to not be able to distinguish the area of abdominal pain and this symptom is confused with a simple stomach ache for something they ate. In these cases, Pargeverine, commercially known as viadil, is prescribed. This drug is an antispasmodic, so it reduces gastrointestinal spasms and reduces pain caused by colic. If it’s really abdominal pain, using this medication and relieving the “stomach ache” symptom could hide an eventual appendicitis condition . Because pain is relieved, underlying disease is not identified and can progress to peritonitis, which if not treated early can be fatal.
4. Interaction with other medications:
When a person consumes two or more drugs at the same time, it is possible that the biologically active molecules that compose them (active ingredient) interact with each other directly due to their chemical structure, or indirectly through their particular effects. This can cause changes in the individual or combined pharmacological effect of the drugs involved.
For example, for the interaction of two drugs it can happen that:
(1) increase the pharmacological potency of only one of them,
(2) a synergistic effect occurs and both medicines increase the potency of their effects,
(3) a medicine cannot exert its pharmacological action and only one takes effect,
(4) both active ingredients are inactivated and no pharmacological effect occurs.
5. Antibiotic resistance:
Antibiotics are a type of medicine used to eradicate infections caused by bacteria *. These microorganisms have their own defense system that allows them to survive the effect of antimicrobial agents such as antibiotics. Therefore, while consuming an antibiotic, despite its effect, it is possible that not all bacteria will be killed and a minority group will survive . This small group of surviving bacteria generates specific resistance mechanisms for that antibiotic.
For this reason, antibiotics are sold by prescription and should NOT be self-medicated . On the other hand, excessive administration of antibiotics , when medical instructions are not followed, also produces bacterial resistance, so that when consumed repeatedly will no longer have an effect .
* It is important to clarify that not all bacteria are harmful to humans. Some bacteria are pathogenic and generate diseases, while others are even beneficial and coexist in the human body in physiological systems such as the gastrointestinal tract.
6. Can generate dependency or addiction
Because the consumption of some medications generates an easily perceived sense of relief and well-being, they can generate psychic-physical symptoms of habituation, tolerance, drug dependence ** and addiction . It is common to associate dependence and addiction exclusively with drugs of abuse, however, medications such as benzodiazepines that are prescribed by psychiatrists (antiepileptics, anxiolytics, hypnotics, and muscle relaxants) and laxatives, can be equally addictive. “Natural” drugs can also lead to addiction.
To exemplify, laxatives are medications indicated to promote the evacuation of faeces in stupidity boxes, which is a very annoying symptom that can interfere in people’s lives. For this reason, the consumption of laxatives can generate drug dependence easily and quickly. People who develop dependence on laxatives have the feeling that their discomfort is a product of laxative even when this is not the case.
** Drug dependence and withdrawal syndrome are the set of males produced by the deprivation of a drug that was administered directly. It manifests itself in physical, psychological and behavioral changes that can only be calmed down when the medication is administered, becoming an indispensable factor in the lives of these people.
We reiterate the call to NOT consume medications if there is no specific medical diagnosis for the patient and the pathology that is consulted. In times like this, when in many cities of our country we find quarantines and health services at maximum capacity, risking having adverse effects, overdose, poisoning or another similar emergency , means having than urgently attend a health facility and generate more work for professionals who are focused on serving COVID-19 patients.
Furthermore, attending a health center at this time is exposing oneself to the spread of the coronavirus and even, due to the high demand, that it is not possible to receive assistance and risk a very negative outcome as a result of poisoning.
In the face of greater discomfort, it is preferable to consult the telemedicine or teleconsultation services that have been arranged by different health centers throughout the country, and the online services of the Ministry of Health https://www.hospitaldigital.gob.cl/