Remember that time when you felt sick and just decided to go ahead with self-medication?

At some point, we are all guilty of self-prescription. We might just be too busy to visit a doctor or we think we know what’s going on with us and we could just treat it ourselves. That’s called self-medication.

In Punjab, at least 73 percent of the educated populace self-medicate.

It’s an easy solution and it does work wonders sometimes. But there are hidden dangers you don’t consider when you do this. What goes around does comes around. The next time around, your diagnosis just might be wrong and then there’s a lot more than just the illness to deal with.


When you’re feeling even mildly ill, it is better to just consult a doctor. It’s great that you are taking an active interest in your health and want to handle it personally. But eventually, you’re harming yourself more by deciding what to take. Here are some of the reasons why and how, self-medication harms you:

  • The medicines taken might not work properly or they might be taken in the wrong dosage.
  • They might be taken incorrectly or inappropriately.
  • The medicine constituents might interact badly with other food and drink you consume.
  • They might react with other medicines you may also be taking and lead to severe reactions (such as rashes, diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, etc.), and not just of the allergic kind. Taking two different types of paracetamol, for example, won’t increase the effect. Rather, the chances of overdose rise significantly.
  • Too much time may pass by before medication failure and its side effects are recognised, which makes the disease a lot more difficult to treat after this.
  • If the diagnosis and subsequent medication is wrong, there are more complications.

Failure to tell the doctor that you’ve taken medicines is the worst thing to do. Newly prescribed medicines may not work and be as effective as they should be.


The development and spread of antibiotic resistance is one of the well known effects of self–medication. Taking random antibiotics doesn’t actually harm the bacteria. They find ways to avoid the antibiotic or even use it to grow. The more antibiotics you take, the wider the type of antibiotics that bacteria can become resistant to. Then, you get multi-drug resistant bacteria and no antibiotic really works on them.

It’s not just about you either. Self-prescription and self-medication can bring about the end of antibiotics.  Resistance spreads really easily and soon, the entire population can become resistant. Unfortunately, we are already resistant to many antibiotics and unless we take action now, we can’t battle antibiotic resistance.

So, never self-medicate and if you do, don’t hide it from medical practitioners.  They need to know, to help you. And remember, when you decide to take medicines without a doctor’s prescription, you’re not just harming yourself, but putting the entire human population at the risk of making antibiotics obsolete.

If you have any self-medication-related questions, Ask a Doctor for from our website. If you want to consult experienced doctors Sign Up on our website or download our App.

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