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We have all self-medicated at least once in our lives, but is it a good practice or not? Current debate on self-medication takes into account both its advantages and disadvantages, but there are still many issues to consider regarding this practice.

The headache is killing you and there is no point in going to the doctor just because of a random headache. What do you do? You take a paracetamol pill, because once, your doctor prescribed it to you for fever, but you know that is can also be used to relieve pain.

Another scenario. Your child has diarrhea. A day before, he ate quite a lot and it might just be the effect of a heavy dinner, so you decide to give him an anti-diarrheal. Of course, you didn’t just medicate your child without any professional help, which would be irresponsible; you actually asked Dr Google what to do.

When should self-medication be practiced? Should we be able to take responsibility over our own health and not rely so much in medical professionals? All this are very important questions that we all should take into account when thinking about taking a medicine without medical advice. 

The beginnings of self-medication

 Who hasn’t self-medicated before? The history of this practice starts in ancient cultures, where even though there was people specialized in treating sickness, health was more a matter of self-care. Times have changed though, and with them, diseases have evolved and new treatments and cures have been developed.

Self-medication is a common practice in our society and it has become easier to self-medicate thanks to the easy access to information.

Self-medication doesn’t only take into account the use of medications legally approved to be sold without prescription, but it also considers the use of controlled medication that the consumer has access too as a result of leftovers from unfinished treatments.

The advantages of self-medication

But how bad can this practice be? Should it be completely banned?

Actually, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not consider self-medication as a bad practice as long as it is “responsible”.

As defined by the WHO, responsible self-medication refers to the practice where a person can treat their illnesses with medicines that don’t require a medical prescription to be sold.

These medicines should comply with safety and effectiveness standards that allow the general public to use them without professional vigilance, but following the directions of a doctor, a pharmacist or the leaflet provided by the pharmaceutical company.

What are the advantages of a responsible self-medication? Well, first of all, you don’t have to visit a doctor every time you feel sick, reducing the costs of health care costs for you, if you tend to use private health care attention, and for the government, when talking about public health programs.

Responsible self-medication also reduces the work overload of public health institutions, especially in places where these are limited, and allows them to provide a better attention to the users.

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