Danger of taking medication without doctor’s advice

Taking over-the-counter or prescription medications without talking to a doctor first may seem to save you time and money, but it is much more costly to your health in the end. The effects of self-medication can be harmful and potentially life-threatening.

Undiagnosed Underlying Condition:

Taking medicine to treat ongoing symptoms without seeing a doctor could mean that you are letting an underlying condition go undiagnosed. Symptoms like persistent fever and rash could be associated with underlying medical conditions that require proper diagnosis to be effectively treated. In some cases, such as diabetes or heart disease, letting symptoms go unchecked could increase your risk of developing serious complications.

If you have experienced a symptom (e.g. fever, rash, insomnia, vomiting, dizziness, nausea, headache, sinus pressure, etc.) for more than 5 days, see your doctor immediately.

Antibiotic Misuse:

Antibiotics have the ability to destroy harmful bacteria, but their misuse can have dangerous effects. Taking antibiotics when you do not have a bacterial infection or illness can lead to resistance. When this happens, bacteria develop the ability to resist the effects of antibiotics, which prevents them from working effectively. The bacteria can then multiply, resulting in higher numbers of bacteria that are resistant to your medications.

Bacteria can also share this resistance with other types of bacteria, including harmful and beneficial ones. When you have the common cold or another viral infection, for example, taking antibiotics for it will not get rid of the virus. Instead, it will cause beneficial bacteria to build up a resistance and share that resistance with any harmful bacteria that are present.

Additionally, there are many different types of antibiotics developed to treat specific illnesses. If you take antibiotics previously prescribed for a different condition, at best you won’t get any better. At worst, you can make yourself severely ill and build antibiotic resistant bacteria that make it harder to cure you.

Mixing Medications:

When you take multiple medications on your own, you run the risk of taking medications that should not be used together for safety reasons. For instance, taking Viagra and heart medications simultaneously can cause a massive drop in blood pressure and trigger a heart attack.

Some medications can affect the potency of other drugs when mixed together. This can put your health at risk by letting your symptoms go untreated due to lowered drug potency. Always ask your pharmacist about any possible negative drug reactions.

Inaccurate Dosages:

The dangers of self-medication can be life-threatening when inaccurate dosages are taken. When you estimate your own dosage, you are at risk for taking enough to result in an accidental overdose.

Conversely, if you take a dosage that is too small, it is not likely to be effective and you may become sicker. This can result in taking additional dosages in order to manage or relieve your symptoms, which can also lead to an overdose.

The practice of self-medication can, and does often, result in death. Your pharmacist and your physician are a team that’s working together to help ensure your safety and maintain your health. Utilize that team by going to the doctor and communicating any concerns you have to your pharmacist—it could prevent serious complications, including death.

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