Avoid Self Medication 

By Dr. Raies Ahmad

What Is Self Medication ? 

IT is a human behavior in which an individual uses a substance for any ailment without a doctor’s consultation or prescription. Self medication has many forms such as self-medication using caffeine, self-medication using alcohol, and self medicating with food.  Self-medication does not necessarily mean purchasing non prescribed medicines, but it also refers to self medicating oneself over food or any other substance.

According to W.H.O, Self-medication is utilization of drugs to treat self-diagnosed symptoms or disease, irregular or continuous use of  prescribed drugs for repeated or chronic disorders or symptoms.

Self Medication involves acquiring medicines without a prescription, resubmitting old prescriptions to purchase medicines, sharing medicines with relatives and friends, using leftover medicine, failing to comply with the professional prescription either by prolonging in or stopping it. There can be various reasons which may compel a person to opt for self medication like saves time, saves money, no trust on prescriber, past experience, avoids hassles, minor illness etc.

Most common drugs used for self medication are pain killers, antipyretics, antibiotics, gastrointestinal drugs, respiratory drugs, anti hypertensives, thyroxine, tonics, anti diabetics, anti allergics etc. Such drugs are used for various common ailments like headache, fever, backache, trauma pain, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, stomach pain, constipation, cough, breathlessness, common cold, sore throat etc.

Factors Influencing Self Medication :

  • Patient satisfaction with health care providers

  • Socioeconomic factors

  • Cost of the drugs

  • Education level

  • Gender

  • Age

Common sources of advice on Self Medication :

  • Pharmacist

  • Friends

  • Family members

  • Internet

  • Self guessing

  • Social Media

  • Television, Radio, Newspaper advertisements

Dangers of Self Medication : 

  • Adverse drug reactions

  • Antibiotic resistance

  • Inaccurate dosage that may lead to accidental overdose

  • Under dosage

  • Misdiagnosis

  • Habituation

  • Masking the side effects of  serious conditions

  • Delaying medical advice

  • Risk of abuse

  • Drug interactions

Self Medication can be minimized or stopped by : 

  • Awareness and Education

  • Proper statutory drug control to ensure that drugs are supplied by a chemist on valid prescription only

  • Strategies to make receiving health care easier

  • Strict rules regarding pharmaceutical advertisements


The author is the HOD at KTC Hospital & Research Centre, Kashmir

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