Definition of self-diagnosis
: the process of identifying, diagnosing, and naming medical conditions
in oneself assisted by self-knowledge, medical dictionaries, books, webinars,
websites, past personal experiences, or recognising symptoms or medical
signs of a condition with which you are already familiar.
Definition of self-medication
: the treatment of common health problems with medicines especially
designed and labeled for use without medical supervision and approved as
safe and effective for such use.
Medicines for self-medication are often called ‘nonprescription’ or ‘over the
counter’ (OTC) , available without a doctor’s prescription through
pharmacies and supermarkets and other outlets. In some countries, such a
s Spain, medications which in the UK must be prescribed by a GP are often
also OTC eg when I lived in Spain I could, if I so chose, wander into my local
pharmacist's, tell him my symptoms and he would recommend OR I could
have done my own research first, find out what I needed for arthritis,
depression, pain, diabetes etc and go to the pharmacist with my list.
(I have always maintained this would be a far beneficial system in the UK and better use of resources.)
Definition of self-treatment
: medication of oneself or treatment of one's own disease or condition without medical supervision or prescription. Treatments may include over the counter medications, nutrition, exercise, dieting, home-made remedies, vitamin and minerals, supplements, self-healing eg Reiki, spiritual healing practices, complementary and alternative therapies eg Yoga, Qi Gong, homeopathy. And again, accessing medicines on-line but often with no guarantee of their pedigree or potential. Always do your diligent research.
Definition of Self-Diagnosis and Self-Treatment
Most of us are likely to do some or all of the above at some time, diagnosing, medicating, treating, and caring for ourselves at home. We do it for convenience, because we have to wait too long to be seen by a general practitioner, because a GP doesn’t have time to take a full medical history and so we end up with a cream for a rash when what we really need is something that tackles the root cause of the rash.
Patient Choice, Patient Self-Responsibility
And more and more, the message from the NHS is patient self-responsibility. In a typical month, you may put hydrocortisone cream on an itchy rash. Or, you get niggling headaches, you self-prescribe some ibuprofen, or buy an antacid for what you consider is heartburn. When your child falls and scratches its knee, you kiss it to make it better. The power of the placebo, eh?
You are regularly making decisions every day as to when, or if, you will see a medical provider. Often we hope things will get better so we do not seek attention; we ignore the warning signs of diabetes, a heart condition, or candidiasis.
There is a growing trend to not only allow, but encourage, people to take a more active role in their medical care. It is certainly less expensive for the NHS. In America, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering waiving prescription requirements for certain drugs used to treat asthma, migraines, and even diabetes. Touch-screen computers (some in pharmacies and medical centres) help patients navigate their symptoms to come up with diagnostic possibilities. WebMD has had that on-line for many years now.
More and more we are recommended to consult with pharmacies. I find when I do, I am usually told the local GP does not like the pharmacist giving advice and so the pharmacist declines my request. This is such a waste of everyone ‘s time. Why, in this day and age, does the GP continue to be the filter through which all must pass, creating a bottle neck and backlog of patients waiting for appointments?
But where you have a more liberal practice, then, as well as helping with common illnesses – like sore throats, coughs, colds, tummy troubles and aches and pains – pharmacy teams can help you stop smoking, cut down on alcohol, give advice on safer sex and emergency contraception. Lloyds pharmacy, as one company, also offers an online doctor consultation.
People can, and should, take a more active role in their own and family’s medical care, but to do so requires that you be aware, be informed, and have used reliable sources and resources, in making that all-important self-diagnosis.
And you need to practise discernment and know when self-diagnosis and treatment is no longer appropriate and seeking professional help is paramount. An ongoing ache in the head could be a headache, may be migraine related, but, if serious, it could also be a sign of a brain tumour or aneurysm. Or, what you think is a yeast infection which will clear up if you just change your diet, and it doesn’t, because it is in fact an indication of a sexually-transmitted disease.
Even with professional help, conditions may not clear up because conventional medicine is only treating symptoms. This is when I suggest you keep pestering the conventional doctor to be more focused on finding the cause and treating that whilst at the same time, become your own metaphysician, ie, study the metaphysical or spiritual meaning of your condition.
So whatever you choose to call your practice, responsible self-medication means
1. Being thorough in your research and discernment
2. Using medicines of proven safety, quality and efficacy.
3. Using medicines for conditions that are self-recognisable and for some chronic or recurrent conditions (following initial medical diagnosis). In all cases, these medicines should be specifically designed for the purpose, and will require appropriate dose and dosage information eg such products should be supported by information, which describes:
duration of use
effects and possible side-effects
how to take or use the medicines
how the effects of the medicine should be monitored
possible interactions and contraindications
precautions and warnings
when to seek professional advice.
Key official sites