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How to Self-medicate Safely And Effectively

How to Self-medicate Safely And Effectively

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Self-medication can be a cost-effective way to reduce healthcare costs, but it is important to do it responsibly.

Why self-medicate?

Self-medication is done for a couple of simple reasons. Most of the time, it is done to reduce unnecessary medical consultation fees for self-treatable minor ailments. People also self-medicate when they want a greater ownership of their bodies and health by attaining knowledge on the correct use of medication.

However, in situations where self-medicating is not appropriate, or if you are unsure about the correct medication, remember to consult a pharmacist or seek professional medical advice.

What information do I need?

Part of responsible self-medicating is knowing as much as possible about the medication you are taking. Usually, this condition is fulfilled by a doctor, but in the absence of one, you will have to find out as much of the following as you can.

  1. Name of the medicine
    It is crucial to know exactly what medication you are taking. Being able to communicate these names to your health professionals gives them the information they need for determining any subsequent course of action.

  2. Name of active ingredients
    Knowing the active and inactive ingredients in your medicine is especially important if you are taking more than one medicine. This is to prevent over-dosage of similar medication.

  3. What the medicine is used for and how it works.
    Some medication has to be consumed regularly to control symptoms of your illness, whereas others are used to relieve symptoms and used only when necessary.

  4. Warnings and side effects
    Be sure that you know when not to take the medicine (before driving, for example) and when to seek advice to prevent the condition from worsening.

  5. Any interactions the medicine might have with food or other medicines.
    Some medication requires you to avoid certain food types or other types of medication.

  6. How to use the medicine properly.
    Read the label carefully and do what it says. Never use a medicine more often or in larger doses than recommended on the label, as it could be harmful and, in some cases, fatal.

  7. How to store the medicine properly.
    Medication can be light and heat sensitive. Ensure that you know how to properly store the medication, for example, in a cool and dark place or away from direct sunlight.

What else should I look out for?

Besides knowing as much about your medication as possible, there are a few other pointers you should follow in your course of self-medication.

  • Check that the container is not damaged.
    Most medicines come in tamper-evident packaging. Check that the seal is not broken before your purchase.
  • Read the medicine label and any leaflets carefully.
    Watch out for any special warnings and precautions. Some medicines should not be used together with others. Sometimes, a product may not be suitable for people with certain medical conditions.
  • Keep medicines secure and out of the reach of children.
    Always keep medicines well away from children. It is a good idea to lock these products in a cupboard above the ground. If the container has a child resistant cap, make sure you put it back on properly and tightly.
  • Check the expiry date.
    All medicines lose their effectiveness over time. Don’t assume a medicine you bought some time ago is still suitable.
  • Talk to a health professional.
    If you still have questions after reading the label, talk to your pharmacist or doctor. They can help you use your medicines safely and effectively.

Minor ailments such as coughs and colds can be easily treated with medication from your local pharmacy. Speak to a pharmacist for recommendations of medication suitable for your conditions. If your symptoms persist or worsen, consult a doctor immediately.

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