Self-medicate or medical attention?

self medicate

Itโ€™s not uncommon that when we get aches and pains we reach out for some paracetamol or other โ€˜over the counter; available medication to ease our discomfort. The same will go for heartburn, nausea, food poisoning, dehydration, allergies, irritation in eyes and so many other things. We are quick to self-medicate our minor problems and try and fix them ourselves.

Most of the times this is quite ok. You are able to deal with a minor problem, and sometimes even a little advice from the pharmacist helps without having to go to the doctor. For me, I draw the line here very quickly because taking medication without knowing how much to take, when to take it and for how long is not something I want to read from the little enclosed leaflet and nor do I want to Google my symptoms (which, incidentally I have done many times and each time have been convinced itโ€™s my last day on Earth) to find out whatโ€™s wrong and what medication I need.

There was a time I was severally convinced that I have deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and that I would get the clot travelling from my calf all the way to my lungs and getting entangled in there somewhere, killing me instantly. I had visions of a red blob travelling upward in my complicated bodily network of various veins and arteries, this shapeless dark red thing about the size of a 50 cent coin, suddenly getting lodged in my lungs. Thatโ€™s what Googling symptoms can do to you.

Turns out, my sciatic nerve had flared up after a grueling session on the treadmill. Actually Iโ€™m lying when I say grueling but how else was I going to justify the sciatic nerve suddenly flaring up? I went to the doctor who I think suppressed his grin as I told him about my DVT and the horrendous pain I was in and how I just had to be admitted straight away to hospital. I left his office with a print out on exercises I was meant to do to ease the pain and a request form to see a physiotherapist. I felt cheated. The only medication I was told I could have was a simple pain killer and only if it hurt a lot.

Having said that, and having convinced you Iโ€™m a hypochondriac, I must say Iโ€™d rather go to a doctor and be diagnosed properly than self-diagnose and self-medicate. This is a terrible thing to do especially where children are concerned. Iโ€™ve never gone running to the pediatrician with my kids at the slightest sniffle but I have been sensible enough not to pump their bodies with medication without proper advice. If an over the counter pain killer works for us adults, donโ€™t think the same will work with kids. They could have kidney failure or something! No Iโ€™m not a doctor but this is common sense and itโ€™s also written on the inserted leaflets in case youโ€™ve been inclined to take the time out to read those.

Go see a doctor if you arenโ€™t well and only self-medicate if you know your medication properly. Pharmacists always dispense advice as well as medication so do ask them too if you need help.

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