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The prevalence of self-medication & its associated factors

Self-medication is a slow suicide.

The prevalence of self-medication & its associated factors


Self-medication is defined as the selection and use of medicines by individuals (or a member of the individuals' family) to treat self-recognized or self-diagnosed conditions or symptoms. Several benefits have been linked to appropriate self-medication, among them: increased access to medication and relief for the patient, the active role of the patient in his or her own health care, better use of physicians and pharmacist’s skills and reduced burden of governments due to health expenditure linked to the treatment of minor health conditions However, self-medication is far from being a completely safe practice, in the case of non- responsible self-medication.

Self-Administer Treatment

Self-medication is human behaviour in which an individual uses a substance or any exogenous influence to self-administer treatment for physical or psychological ailments. The most widely self-medicated substances are over-the-counter drugs used to treat common health issues at home, as well as dietary supplements. Self-medication involves obtaining medicines without a prescription, resubmitting old prescriptions to purchase medicines, sharing medicines with relatives or members of one’s social circle, or using leftover medicines stored at home.

Misuse of Medicines

The inappropriate use of antibiotics through self-medication may cause significant adverse effects, such as antibiotic resistance, treatment failure, and drug toxicity. Medicines for self-medication are often called ‘nonprescription’ or ‘over the counter’ (OTC) and are available without a doctor’s prescription through pharmacies. In some countries, OTC products are also available in supermarkets and other outlets. Medicines that require a doctor’s prescription are called prescription products.

Potential risks of self-medication practices include

1. Incorrect self-diagnosis

2. Delays in seeking medical advice when needed

3. Infrequent but severe adverse reactions

4. Dangerous drug interactions

5. Incorrect manner of administration

6. Incorrect dosage

7. Incorrect choice of therapy

8. Masking of a severe disease

9. Risk of dependence and abuse

Some of the most important dangers related to self-medication practices, particularly

1. Drug interactions

2. Medications abuse or dependence

3. Misdiagnosis

4. Incorrect choice of treatment. 

Image source: http://www.embj.org

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