Self-medication can be kiss of death: Experts
New Delhi: Self-medication has been observed as a global phenomenon and potential contributor to human pathogen resistance to antibiotics.
The adverse consequences of such practices should always be emphasized to the community and steps to curb it. Rampant irrational use of antimicrobials without medical guidance may result in greater probability of inappropriate, incorrect, or undue therapy, missed the diagnosis, delays inappropriate treatment, pathogen resistance and increased morbidity.
Besides all this, self-medication also leads to wastage of financial resources and often results in lack of therapeutic outcome.
Major problems related to self-medication are wastage of resources in resource-limited settings for healthcare environment, increased the resistance of pathogens and causes serious health hazards such as adverse reaction and prolonged suffering.
The prolonged suffering contributes in increased out of pocket spending for treatment. Antimicrobial resistance is a current problem worldwide particularly in developing countries where antibiotics are available without any prescription.
Hence, the government should take necessary steps to regulate responsible self-medication. This can be done by making the availability of safe drugs along with proper instructions about its use and if in need consulting a physician.
Self-medication is very common in India and influenced by many factors such as education, gender, socio-economic status, feeling of sympathy toward family members in sickness, lack of time in seeking health care, availability and accessibility of health services, affordability of health services, ignorance, misbelieves, extensive advertisement and availability of drugs in other than drug shops are responsible for growing trend of self-medication.
"Further research could be designed in India in order to explore more insights about the self-medication especially with respect to health spending, resource wastes, cost to benefit ratio, common illness when the patient choose the self-medication, sources of care, etc. Efforts are also required to estimate the costs involved to self-medication and its effectiveness," said Dr PR Sodani, Pro-President, IIHMR University, Jaipur.
Some of the mechanism to address the problem of self-medication could be public health awareness program addressing the harmful effects of self-medications at various levels of the healthcare systems, continuing medical education to the community pharmacist, pharmacist, nursing staff, medical and paramedical staff, developing a framework for continuous review and monitoring of medicinal products on the basis of safety, efficacy and potency which could lead to further enforcement and implementation of laws and regulations governing medicinal products, and planning interventions to promote rational use of medicines through mass media such as television, magazine and newspapers.
One tends to look up the internet for solutions and buys medicines based on one's interpretation of the limited knowledge that may be online. If one indulges in the practice of self-medication, one might suffer from potential threats arising because of self-medication which could be detrimental for one's life.
"Prescription drugs need to be more strictly regulated in order to safeguard the patients' life and prevent him from the deleterious and life-threatening adverse drug reactions such allergic reactions and renal (kidney) impairment," said Dr Sodani.