Are you scouting the internet for medication?

Is it the high consultation fee or sheer laziness and negligence that drives youngsters to self medication? A recent study by Safdarjung Hospital revealed a high prevalence of self-medication amongst Delhi University students.

The study stating that 85.4 per cent of the studied student population adhered to this practice, especially for ailments such as headache and common cold. By using medicines easily available over the counter, are we putting our health to risk by making our bodies antibiotic-resistant?

A Delhi-based student from Hansraj college, Saumya Badoni says, “If you are living with your family, money is not the criterion that defines your choices. Our mothers habituate us to homemade remedies. Who goes to a doctor for cold and cough-like ailments, when your mother gives you kali mirchi (pepper) with shehad (honey), rounds of steam before tucking you in the bed at night. The usual fevers are a result of exhaustion only, one needs to just relax to rejuvenate oneself.”

While Saumya only talks of homemade remedies, there are others who buy medicines over the counter.

“The problem is that owing to busy schedules, or even perhaps high fees, it’s a  common tendency amongst patients to wait till their problem really aggravates. The issue is nobody knows how long they should wait? ,” says Dr (Col) Surendra Pratap Singh, principal consultant, Internal Medicine, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute (FEHI), adding, “There’s a disturbing practice amongst youngsters to put their symptoms online and find suitable medicines for their illness. In turn, they end up taking unnecessary and inappropriate antibiotics that may lead to antibiotic resistance over a long run.”

Concurring with him, Ankur Singh, an English Honours student hailing from Madhya Pradesh nonchalantly shares, “With a change in season, one gets affected with mild headaches, cold, cough and fever all the time. At home, our parents may push us into visiting a doctor if such illnesses persist but when we are away, we tend to wait for a while. We only run for the cough syrup packed in our medicine box- without which my mother never lets me leave home.”

“But it is not an age-specific problem, instead it is psychological,” notes the doctor mentioning, “In the capital, the consultation fees varies between Rs 250 to 750, which definitely impacts people’s decisions.” But the consequences of self-medication are more unfortunate in the age group of 40 and above, as their symptoms are often misleading. “There have been times, when they take medicine for acidity in the night, only to find out that it was a sign of a heart attack, later,” the
doctor cautions.

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