Here are instances when you seriously shouldn’t self-medicate, says Emelyn Wong, senior pharmacist with Watsons. By Dawn Chen
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1. See a doc instead of self-medicating if… You are on long-term medication
Mixing meds is never a good idea. It may amplify or reduce the effects of your regular meds and cause the treatment to fail. For example, someone who’s had a stroke might be on blood-thinning medication and should not treat a headache with aspirin, also a blood thinner, as it could increase her risk of excessive bleeding.
2. See a doc instead of self-medicating if… You have a chronic illness
Those with heart or kidney disease, diabetes and asthma should steer clear of over-the-counter (OTC) treatments as they may contain drugs that can increase strain on the body. For instance, certain OTC pills for treating flu symptoms like blocked nose contain phenylephrine. This shrinks blood vessels and may increase blood pressure, as well as cause your ticker to pump harder – a bad idea for those with pre-existing heart conditions.
3. See a doc instead of self-medicating if… You have a drug allergy
Even if you avoid a specific pill you’re allergic to, you might develop a cross-allergy or reaction to another drug in the same class of medication. For instance, common painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen belong to a class known as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). If you’re allergic to aspirin, you could also react to other NSAIDs.
4. See a doc instead of self-medicating if… Your symptoms have persisted for over a week
If you’ve been taking OTC meds for minor ailments like a sore throat or headache and there hasn’t been an improvement, you should see your doctor.