Doctors train for years to provide the best medical advice, but we still sometimes self-diagnose and self-medicate. For minor illnesses like the common cold, it makes sense to take medicine to relieve the symptoms and wait it out. If the medication doesn’t work or the symptoms last longer than expected, then we visit the doctor.
However, sometimes it’s not smart to self-medicate. If a new symptom occurs but we feel too busy to go to the doctor or maybe even embarrassed about the symptom, it’s tempting to search the internet for medication advice; doing so is convenient and anonymous. As we always hear, though, if you’re not sure, it’s best to seek expert advice. Here are 10 pitfalls of self-medicating.
1. Incorrect Diagnosis
Many illnesses share similar symptoms, and most people don’t have the medical background to properly diagnose health conditions. The years of medical training that doctors have help them rule out other possible causes.
2. Less-Than-Optimal Medication
Medical discoveries are made every day that make health care better, easier, and more effective. Your medication may help somewhat, but you might be missing out on a better option.
3. Incorrect Dosage
We can all read a bottle or search the internet to find the correct dosage. That doesn’t always take into account our individual needs, however.
4. Incorrect Manner of Administration
Pills, caplets, liquids, and powders all require a specific manner and timing of administration. It’s very easy to misunderstand what’s really required.
5. Severe Adverse Reaction
Medical personnel and pharmacists can advise you about worst-case scenarios. This helps you be prepared in the unlikely but possible event of a severe adverse reaction to a medication.
6. Drug Interactions
You may not know that your current medication negates the effects of the new medication, but your doctor does. Drug interaction scenarios are potentially life-threatening, so it’s best to seek medical advice.
7. Delays in Seeking Medical Advice
Many medications take time to work. While you’re waiting to see if the medicine helps, you could be receiving better care and advice.
8. Habit-Forming Drugs
Opioid addiction is all over the news, but it’s still tempting to take a leftover oxycodone tablet when pain becomes severe. Taking one may seem OK, but what if the pain continues throughout the week? It’s dangerous to take habit-forming drugs without the oversight of a doctor.
9. Missed Serious Illness
What if that worsening heartburn is actually angina, chest pain indicating reduced blood flow to the heart? What if those migraines you’ve been getting lately are actually a sign of a pending brain aneurysm? We don’t want to think of worst-case scenarios, but sometimes a delay in seeking medical advice can have catastrophic effects.
10. Missed Reassurance
Most of the time when we go to the doctor for something, it turns out to be nothing serious. That can be frustrating—a visit to the doctor takes time and money—but it’s important to know when an illness isn’t something serious so we can stop worrying about it.
The next time you’re unsure about a medication, consult with your doctor. Contact us if you have any questions about your current medications.