Self-medication And Its Health Risks

There is a high incidence of self-medication with antibiotics. As a consequence, some countries show very unfavorable records of antibiotic resistance, especially in outpatient bacterial pathogens.
Self-medication and its health risks

Self-medication is the  use of over-the-counter medications,  and therefore without medical intervention. The worrying part is that medicines are becoming easier to access, either because of low prices or because of their availability on the internet.

To put it bluntly, “without medical intervention” we mean  that there is no professional intervention in either the diagnosis or the prescription and there is no monitoring of the treatment. 

At the present time, this habit is growing in our society. However, most people do not realize how much they are harming themselves and the rest of the population when they self-medicate.

There are over-the-counter medications that are used to relieve minor symptoms such as headaches, fever and colds. However, these can only be used to a certain extent and for a limited period. This is because  you need to talk to a doctor if these symptoms persist.

In this article, we will look at the  dangers of self-medication and some healthy alternatives.

Self-medication and painkillers

Pills on the table illustrate self-medication

Unfortunately, estimates of the intake of these forms of medication indicate that the population is highly exposed to pain medications in all age groups and to a wide range of diseases.

However, when you overuse these types of medications indiscriminately or without professional control,  they can affect your kidneys and digestive system and lead to stomach ulcers and even liver failure.

A very dangerous form of self-medication: Antibiotics

Unfortunately, antibiotics are commonly purchased by individuals who do not even have an infectious medical diagnosis to explain the use. In many cases, they even ask for familiar types of medications by name.

There are many countries with a high degree of self-medication with antibiotics. As a consequence, they show unfavorable registrations of antibiotic resistance, especially in outpatient bacterial pathogens.

This is very dangerous as it means that  overuse of this medicine makes the bacterium resistant to the medicine, making certain diseases impossible to treat.

Do not take antibiotics without medical supervision. This is because the accidental use of drugs endangers the health of the entire world’s population.

Other cases

Here are also some other groups of medications and supplements that many take without medical guidance:

  • Local antiseptics.
  • Supplements of vitamins and minerals.
  • Antivirals and cough medicines.
  • Medicines for stomach ailments, digestive aids, stomach acid neutralizers and remedies for flatulence.

However, the most important thing that we would like to emphasize in this article is antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance


Antibiotic resistance is currently a global crisis. You’ve probably heard of it, but you may not realize how big of a problem it is.

When strains become resistant to antibiotics, it is because the  antibiotic is no longer effective against that particular bacterium. Therefore, these microorganisms develop various mechanisms to defend themselves against the effect of the rewarding type of medicine.

What’s the problem then? Why not just use another type of medication if the first one no longer works?

Yes, that’s exactly our current solution. However, this creates other problems when we start overusing the new antibiotic and the bacterium also becomes resistant to it. The problem is that we run out of types of antibiotics and we run the risk of running out completely.

The health risks of self-medication

Self-medication without medical or pharmaceutical involvement also involves several health risks that people, in most cases, are not aware of. Among them we can find:

  • Poisoning.
  • Lack of efficiency  because they are being abused. This is very common in the case of antibiotics used to treat a virus.
  • Addiction  as it can happen with benzodiazepines.
  • Masking of serious clinical processes.
  • Personal antibiotic resistance,  as we have explained above.


Talk to your doctor or pharmacist  if you have any questions about medication. Do not take anything that requires a prescription unless your doctor indicates this treatment.

Lastly, always talk to a pharmacist about the proper use of over-the-counter medications.

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