Why is self-medication a recipe for disaster?
With the digital age offering limitless information at tap of a finger, many of us prefer to rely on it even when it comes to health and this has led to a rise in cases of self-medication.

A lot of people these days log on to the internet to check for their symptoms and even take the medication based on their understanding. This obsessive desire to scour the net for even minor discomfort and the deluded belief that you suffer from the diseases featured on the search engine results has even given rise to a new term - cyberchondria.

“For a variety of reasons, self-medication has become rampant in our society. It is becoming a common trend for people, whenever they are ill, to purchase over-the-counter drugs or simply treat themselves based on the self-diagnosed symptoms without consulting doctors. They may be opting for this because they find it cheaper and easier,” said Dr. Ravikeerthy M., Consultant Physician and HOD, Department of Internal Medicine at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals.

In a recent case, a 54-year-old man was admitted to the ICU after he medicated himself and suffered adverse effects. The patient, who was a diabetic, had fever, running nose and cough for a week. Fever was high grade and associated with chills along with yellow sputum. He decided to opt for self-medication. Dr. Ravikeerthy said the patient visited the hospital when he noted his fever was not subsiding and he had begun to feel tired and breathless. “After he came to the hospital, he was dehydrated, had breathlessness, heart rate was high and his BP was relatively low (100/60). His chest x-ray revealed right sided pneumonia. The oxygen saturation level was 85%. His blood sugar was high. He was admitted to ICU, started with oxygen, IV antibiotics, insulin and other supportive measures,” he said. Fortunately, the patient recovered after 72 hours.

Dr. Shylaja Shyamsunder, Consultant, Internal Medicine at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals said, “A major issue is overuse of wrong medicines that cause dangerous side effects leading to higher medical expenses and unnecessary investigations.”

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