The Impact of Self-Medication on Your Health: What You Need to Know


The impact of self-medication on personal health and well-being is a significant concern in today’s society. With easy access to information and the availability of over-the-counter medications, many individuals resort to self-treatment when faced with health issues. While this may seem quick and convenient, it can harm the individual.

Self-medication refers to treating health conditions without consulting a healthcare professional. It involves using over-the-counter drugs, alternative therapies, or medications obtained without a prescription. Regarding “common illnesses,” individuals may resort to self-medication for various reasons, including embarrassment, convenience, or lack of access to healthcare services. 

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Potential Risks of Self-Medication

The potential risks and complications arising from self-medicating ailments can be very severe. Sadly, over 70% of Nigerians actively self-medicate. While self-medication may have some benefits when used appropriately, such as empowering individuals to take care of themselves and be responsible for their health and further reducing healthcare costs, responsible self-medication does not in any way imply an absence of risk. 

Several studies have reported that over-the-counter (OTC) use is associated with adverse health reactions and fatalities. Individuals are not always responsible regarding how they practice self-medication and often do not have adequate ability to deal with the symptoms caused by their self-medication. Inappropriate nonprescription use is often associated with limited information and low knowledge of medication use. 

Non-prescribed drug use contributes to several drug-related fatalities and debilitating illnesses worldwide. Foremost medical scholar R. Stevenson reports on two ladies who died due to self-medication. The first fatality was due to hemorrhagic duodenitis induced by over-the-counter ibuprofen, while the other was due to an excess intake of paracetamol which she combined with Tylex (paracetamol and codeine). It was also reported that a young man suffered hypoxic brain damage after intramuscular self‐injection of diclofenac for acute back pain. 

Self-medication’s risks and dangers are too real and extremely severe to be taken carelessly. Below are some effects of self-medication.

  • Misdiagnosis and Delayed Treatment

Self-medication without a proper diagnosis can lead to misinterpretation of symptoms and a delay in giving appropriate treatment. Sexual health issues, such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or hormonal imbalances, require an accurate diagnosis and targeted treatment approach to determine the underlying cause. Individuals may overlook or misdiagnose their condition without professional assessment resulting in ineffective or delayed treatment.

  • Masking Underlying Issues

Self-medication often focuses on managing symptoms rather than addressing the root cause of the problem. This approach can provide temporary relief without actually resolving the underlying issue. For example, using painkillers to manage sexual pain might provide short-term alleviation, but if an infection or pelvic floor dysfunction causes the pain, the underlying condition remains untreated. Masking symptoms can delay necessary interventions and potentially lead to further complications.

  • Drug Interactions and Side Effects

When self-medicating, individuals may unknowingly combine medications that interact negatively or use drugs with potential side effects. Without professional guidance, assessing potential drug interactions or determining whether a medication suits an individual’s health condition. These difficulties can complicate health issues and increase the risk of adverse reactions or undesired side effects.

  • Inadequate Dosage or Treatment Duration

Determining the appropriate dosage and treatment duration through self-medication often involves guesswork. Without proper knowledge and understanding of the condition and medications, individuals may unintentionally underdose, rendering the treatment ineffective, or overdose, which can have serious health consequences. Adhering to a healthcare professional’s guidance ensures safe and effective treatment by providing the correct dosage and duration of medication use.

  • Delayed Diagnosis of Underlying Conditions

Some sexual health issues may be symptoms of underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or hormonal imbalances. Self-medication without proper evaluation can delay the diagnosis of these underlying conditions, resulting in potential complications and missed opportunities for early intervention. Seeking professional guidance allows for comprehensive assessment, accurate diagnosis, and appropriate management of health concerns and underlying medical conditions.

The Importance of Professional Guidance

  • Accurate Diagnosis

Seeking professional guidance enables accurate diagnosis by evaluating symptoms, conducting necessary tests, and considering individual medical history. This ensures that the treatment plan targets the specific underlying causes of health concerns, increasing the likelihood of successful outcomes.

  • Tailored Treatment Plans

Healthcare professionals possess the knowledge and expertise to create personalized treatment plans based on individual needs. By considering factors such as medical history, lifestyle, and preferences, they can recommend appropriate medications, therapies, or lifestyle changes that address the root cause of the health issues rather than merely managing symptoms.

  • Monitoring and Follow-Up

Regular monitoring and follow-up are crucial for assessing treatment effectiveness and making necessary adjustments. Healthcare professionals can track progress, address concerns, and modify the treatment plan accordingly, optimizing the chances of achieving positive results. They can also provide support and guidance throughout the treatment process.

  • Education and Support

Professional guidance offers not only treatment but also education and support. Healthcare providers can provide valuable information on sexual health, safe practices, and preventive measures. They can address concerns, provide emotional support, and connect individuals with additional resources, ensuring comprehensive care and promoting overall well-being.


In conclusion, the practice of self-medication, although tempting for its convenience and perceived cost-saving benefits, comes with many potential risks and complications when addressing health concerns. Self-medication often focuses on managing symptoms rather than addressing the root cause of the problem. While this may provide temporary relief, it masks the underlying issues and can lead to a false sense of improvement. 

The risks of self-medication also extend to drug interactions and side effects. Without professional guidance, individuals may unknowingly combine medications that interact adversely or use drugs with potential side effects. 

Involves guesswork regarding dosage and treatment duration. Without proper knowledge of the specific condition and medications, self-medication becomes guesswork, inadvertently leading to drug abuse which can have severe health consequences. Remember, your health and overall well-being are important, and seeking the expertise of healthcare professionals is crucial for optimal care.

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Speak to a doctor today on our toll-free line (08000432585) to get started.

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