A stubborn cold or a tearing body ache, in the middle of office hours or just before an exam is often self treated with paracetemols (pain killers). Result: temporary relief. And when the pills wear out, the body starts to hurt again. A visit to a doctor can set things right. But at most times, flu, a small wound or an insect bite are medicated at home.
“There are instances when patients turn up with cracked feet which need immediate attention. After giving up on the very many creams, they see a doctor. But what the patients choose to ignore is that the right treatment could have saved them of the troublesome infection,” says Dr Romil Mehta.
Only a symptom
Fever is another condition which is ignored initially. It is self-medicated with paracetamols like Crocin and Metacin. Mehta says that fever is only a symptom of diseases like malaria, dengue, or leptopyrosis. “One must visit the doctor for there could be larger issues. The frequent intake of a particular painkiller makes the body immune to it. Eventually, it masks the disease, and in due course, weakens the resistance of the body, ” he explains. “The doctor then has to prescribe a heavier antibiotic which by far is not good for the body.”
The reasons behind self-medication vary from those who wish to avoid blood tests, unwanted antibiotics, to long hours at the clinic, or even a heavy fee.
Apart from using home remedies like inhaling steam, drinking kadah, adding haldi to milk, the Internet too helps source self-medication treatments.
Mehta cites the example of a patient who would throw up every night. Before consulting him, he consumed antacids for four months. Turned out the patient was suffering from hiatus hernia. Mehta admits that ordinary painkillers can be taken but only up to a point.. after that, the medication ought to be left to the doctor’s prescription.