(HealthyResearch.com) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adverse drug events, or negative outcomes that result from using medication, cause more than one million people to visit hospital emergency rooms each year in the US. Not all of these drug reactions are from doctor-prescribed medications or doses.
Self-prescribing both OTC and prescription drugs accounts for many cases. Let’s take a look at why you should never self-medicate.
There’s a Higher Risk of Drug Interactions
If you are prescribed and taking one drug and choose to take another without informing your healthcare provider, you could suffer a negative drug interaction. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says many drug interactions are preventable.
The primary way to prevent drug interactions is to take only those medications prescribed by your doctor. Doctors and pharmacists are careful to research the right drug combinations to prevent interactions. If you’re wondering if an OTC medication is safe for you to use in combination with other medications, be sure to talk to your pharmacist.
You Could Be Using the Wrong Medication
Recently, a couple in Phoenix heard anecdotally that taking hydroxychloroquine might cure COVID-19. Even though they had no symptoms, they took a fish tank treatment product which included chloroquine phosphate, a similar drug to hydroxychloroquine. Both drugs are antimalarials and have been used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
The problem? Chloroquine phosphate is used in products for fish aquariums, which was why the couple had it in their possession. The man died as a result of ingesting it, and the woman was admitted to the hospital due to the drug’s adverse effects. The tragedy might have been averted had they talked with their doctor instead of self-medicating.
You Risk Taking the Wrong Dosage
Another factor in the above-mentioned couple’s outcome was dosage. Not only did the couple take the wrong medication, but they also took the wrong dose even if they had used the right medication.
Dosage is something best left to medical professionals. Too little medication and you might get side effects with no benefits, and too much can cause major adverse effects or even death. Even if you’ve taken the medication in the past, that doesn’t mean the dosage would be the same for a different time or illness. Medication dosage is based on things like weight, age, pre-existing conditions, diagnosis and any other medications you might be taking. Don’t try to guess at home.
You Could Make Yourself Antibiotic-Resistant
Suppose you’re sick. You might take a dose of old antibiotics that you had from the last time you were sick. They might work a little — but not enough to completely eradicate the illness.
Let’s pretend you start to feel a little better, so you think the antibiotic has worked and take it until it’s gone. This becomes a problem when you run out of medication, and the illness comes back with a vengeance. You might not be able to take that same medication again and get good results because the pathogen might have built up a resistance or your body might not use the medication appropriately anymore. Your doctor might need to prescribe a different or stronger medication — and there are scenarios where that might potentially put your life at risk, especially if a broad-spectrum antibiotic doesn’t work. Self-medicating, in this scenario, both masks your symptoms initially and potentially causes a resistance to antibiotics, compounding the problem.
There are many other reasons to not self-prescribe, ranging from potential drug allergies (especially if you “borrow” someone else’s meds, which you should NEVER do) to using expired medications. The biggest reason to not self-medicate is that it could put your life at risk. To feel better and obtain the help you need, always seek advice from medical professionals before taking any prescription medication.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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