Self-Medication Risks & Benefits: Don’t Be A Google Doctor

Divya Tripathi

, Health A2Z

Self-medication is the treatment of health problems with medicines especially designed for use without medical prescription and approved as safe and effective for general use. Medicines for self-medication are also known as ‘nonprescription’ or ‘over the counter’ (OTC) which are available without a doctor’s prescription through pharmacies.


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What is Self-Medication?


Self-treatment or self-medication is the treatment of self-diagnosed disorders, diseases, or symptoms. Self-medication can be defined as continued or intermittent use of a medication that is prescribed by a physician for chronic or recurrent symptoms.



It covers a wide range of diseases, from a headache or common cold to complex diseases like psychoneurological or cardiovascular ones and even cancers.



Health-Related Information By Google: 


Researchers from the University of Surrey, led by Dr. Afrodita Marcu, investigated whether women sought health information online when experiencing potential breast cancer symptoms and, if so, whether they found it useful. Interviewing 27 women, aged between 47 and 67 years old, researchers found different levels of engagement with the internet for health information that was driven by a range of attitudes and levels of trust.


Some women, particularly those who have no formal educational qualifications or with fewer, were found to be negative about the usefulness of ‘Dr. Google’ and were against using the internet for health information, They claim that this could lead to unnecessary worry or misdiagnosis about what their symptoms might mean.


During the research, researchers also found that women, open to using the internet for health-related information, reported feeling overwhelmed about it. The majority of women who experienced such feelings went to see their doctor, mostly because they felt that only professional doctors could resolve concerns about their symptoms and provide appropriate answers.


Dr. Afrodita Marcu, Research Fellow at the University of Surrey, said: “The internet is a valuable source of medical information. However, it also contains a lot of bad quality information or information which cannot be easily understandable by a layman or applied to every individual situation, so it is not surprising that some people feel that cannot trust it.


The Self-Medication Hypothesis:


The self-medication hypothesis starts appearing in medical journals in the 1970s, as doctors noticed that drugs (heroin) addicts were using the medicines to cope with problems like stress and loneliness. This lead to the idea that medicine use develops as a way of managing stress in the absence of meaningful social relationships and adequate solutions.


Benefits of Self- MedicationRisk of Self- Medication
It helps to prevent and treat symptoms and illness which don’t need a doctor. Incorrect self-diagnosis
The patient gets immediate relief.
Incorrect choice of therapy
Increase the availability of health care in a rural area or hilly areas.
Dangerous drug interaction
The patient gets control over the chronic disease.
Good for Patient productivity and wellness .
Delays in seeking medical advice when actually needed
Cost saving and time-saving to health care of the people. Ignorance of a severe disease
Risk of dependence, addiction, and abuse


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Consequences of Self-Medication:



Sometimes self-medicating works out well. people take a Tylenol, and their headache goes away.


But there are many ways self-medicating can go wrong, including:


1. Incorrect self-diagnosis


2. Incorrect choice of therapy


3. Dangerous drug interaction


4. Overdose


5. Delays in seeking medical advice when actually needed


6. Ignorance of a severe disease


7. Risk of dependence, addiction, and abuse


Substances Commonly Used to Self-Medicate:


People use various substances to alleviate physical as well as mental discomfort. These discern remedies carry great risks when misused.




Easily availability, many turn to alcohol, a depressant, to relieve mental fears or physical pains. They find it to be a quick, and easily accessible solution to their problems. It also affects the body, negatively impacting your stomach, muscles, and skin.




Thousands of people worldwide use opioids annually, according to the World Drug Report. Some use substances like methadone and codeine as a means of self-medication, notably for disorders like depression. Heavy opioid use can worsen and lead to addiction or even death.




Here we have discussed self-medication and health-related information which we access through the internet. We should not rely on every health-related information and advice provided on the internet. For information, we should trust on health portals like GoMedii, which are trust-worthy and have the panel of doctor which give the correct health-related information.

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