Are You Your Own Doctor?

by Sam Malone

Coughs and colds and aches and pains are just part of our everyday life - ok, maybe not literally, but it definitely feels like it! So is it actually necessary to rush to the doctor every time you have the sniffles? More importantly, how do you decide when medical attention is necessary? So here are some pointers to help you decide on your best course of action, and if the symptoms you're experiencing are threatening or not.

Self Medication - The Advantages

Being your own doctor is never really an option but it isn't feasible to depend on one for every health problem. You simply need to be relatively well informed and have some amount of common sense to be able to discern between a legitimate illness that requires medical attention and a mundane health condition that can be treated at home.  Self medication isn't necessarily something to be frowned upon, but it is something that you need to be cautious about. Most health care professionals also avoid treating themselves and when faced with any illness will seek medical attention. Self medication does offer tremendous benefits, particularly when faced with non-threatening infections like the common cold or mild backaches and so on. In such scenarios self medication is beneficial as it gives you a greater role in your own health care. Keep in mind that self-medication does not mean that you should rely on drugs and strong medication but instead you can use home remedies and natural treatment methods to get rid of a minor but persistent problem. This also reduces your dependence on health care professionals, whose skills and expertise are indispensable in the treatment of more serious health conditions. This also reduces health care costs for the government.

The Risks of Self Medication

Despite the significant benefits of self medication there are some inherent risks as well. The irresponsible use of over the counter medications can be particularly damaging and this is in fact the biggest risk. The risks of self medication go beyond simple over reliance on drugs and remedies. When individuals with no knowledge or limited knowledge of medicine and health care attempt self treatment, it typically also involves self diagnosis. Health care professionals dedicate their lives to the pursuit of knowledge and after years of studies in medical colleges still depend on medical tests and technology to verify their findings. Self diagnosis is probably the most dangerous aspect of home treatment, as it often downplays more serious conditions that manifest in mild symptoms, at times resulting in fatal delays in much needed medical advice and treatment. With our limited understanding of medicine, the risks of drug interactions and adverse reactions from certain medications and herbs are also very real.

The risks from irresponsible use of self medication are also worrying because of their implications on our health not just as individuals, but as a species as well. Our over reliance and almost abusive dependence on antibiotics for various conditions for example, has created a variety of drug resistant strains of bacteria. This poses a greater health risk than most of us can even fathom, as a global pandemic resulting from a drug resistant bacterial strain could prove disastrous.

It's hard to strike a balance between self medication that is necessary and the irresponsible use of medications and home remedies. Setting yourself strict deadlines can help address this problem to a great extent however. In other words, if you find that the ailment in focus does not respond to treatment within a deadline, you should seek immediate medical attention. The length of the deadline would naturally vary, depending on the severity of the symptoms or the severity of the condition they could be symptomatic of.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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