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Dangers associated with self-medication | The Nation

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By Oluwatomisin Amokeoja

The prevalence of self-medication from several Nigerian studies ranges between 60-90%.

There is a high incidence of self-medication with ‘over the counter’ (OTC) and prescription medicines ranging from 15.0 to 81.5% in different localities.

Nigeria is among the developing countries of the world, where drugs are freely displayed for sale in unauthorised places such as markets, shops, roadside stalls, motor parks, and other public places by individuals not duly licensed.

While some benefits may come with self-medication, the dangers far outweigh the merits.

Below are five dangers associated with self-medication:

  • Dangerous drug interaction: Some combinations of drugs can be dangerous. Drug interactions occur when two or more drugs prescription or OTC react with each other. Some drug interactions can make the drug taken less effective.
  • Masking of severe diseases: Use of drugs not prescribed by a professional can increase risk for delayed and masked or missed diagnoses of infectious diseases and missed diagnosis of noninfectious diseases.
  • Risk of dependence and abuse: Although self-medication may offer some relief in the short-term while exacerbating the health challenges eventually. People tend to turn to regular self-medication for the short-term relief derived which can lead to addiction, a worsening of mood disorders, and increased health problems.
  • Incorrect self-diagnosis: Diagnosing, or identifying, medical conditions in oneself will often than not be incorrect. There have been cases where people diagnosed themselves for headache or stomach only to later realise that they were up against severe ailments after symptoms persisted and they resorted to visiting the hospital.
  • Potential adverse reactions: The body can get unexpected or dangerous reactions to a drug as a result of self-medication. The practice of self-medication can be associated with unwanted effects caused by the drugs which may be sudden or develop over time.


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