Self-treatment of diseases: self-medication carries risks

Self-medication for complaints: Experts warn against careless self-treatment
Especially with supposedly harmless illnesses like a cold, many people quickly take medication. However, health experts warn against careless self-treatment. Self-medication without medical advice can be dangerous for the patient.

In the fall, you quickly reach into the medicine cabinet
Although many people trust that the right remedies for colds are natural home remedies such as sage, honey or sweat cures, quite a few will take medication for complaints such as cough or headache in the coming autumn with its wet and cold weather - and without asking a doctor . Studies have shown that women are at the forefront of self-medication. Health risks from self-treatment threaten both genders equally.

Frequent use of over-the-counter pain relievers
According to a representative Forsa survey commissioned by the AOK Baden-Württemberg, 21 percent of Baden-Württemberg use over-the-counter pain relievers at least once a month - three percent even at least once a week.

"Over-the-counter pain relievers can lead to serious side effects," the health insurance company wrote in a message.

The most common health risks from pain relievers are inflammation of the mucous membranes, ulcers or bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.

In addition, such drugs can significantly increase the risk of heart attack, as researchers found in a study.

Experts warn against careless self-treatment
Health experts warn against careless self-treatment. Josef Kammermeier, Vice Chairman of the Bavarian Pharmacists' Association (BAV), told the German Press Agency:

"Self-medication without advice or a blind order in other sales channels can be dangerous."

According to him, pharmacists would have a role as a “filter”. "We separate supposed miracle drugs and quackery from responsible drug use."

Headaches are a domain of self-medication
At the German Pain Congress, which lasts several days and starts in Mannheim on October 11, the participants will also deal with topics such as self-medication - self-treatment of complaints.

"Unfortunately, headaches are still a domain of self-medication," said the president of the German Migraine and Headache Society (DMKG), private lecturer Dr. med. Stefanie Förderreuther from the Klinikum Innenstadt of the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) Munich, in a message from the German Pain Society.

As it says, most people trust home remedies for headaches or over-the-counter pain relievers from pharmacies. In a survey by the DMKG, a total of ten percent stated that they should turn to a naturopath for a headache.

The results of the survey will be presented at the press conference for the German Pain Congress 2017.

"I hope that the message from Congress is that pain can be treated well," said Dr. Förderreuther according to dpa.

It becomes dangerous when pain threatens to become chronic. “At the latest then you should get help. Pain changes the nature of people and has an impact on family and work, ”said the senior doctor.

Good business for pharmaceutical companies
According to estimates, every German spends around 50 euros a year on self-medication. Of course, the pharmaceutical companies have long recognized the trend towards self-sufficiency against symptoms such as runny nose, cough and hoarseness.

The business with over-the-counter pain relievers is booming. Doctors also contribute to this. The ABDA - the Federal Association of German Pharmacists' Associations, reported last year that doctors in Germany prescribed around 20 million over-the-counter medicines for children alone.

According to Kammermeier from the Bavarian Pharmacists' Association, from the perspective of health insurance companies it could be attractive to delegate more tasks to pharmacists.

"The importance of self-medication has increased since most over-the-counter medicines from the pharmacy no longer have to be reimbursed by the health insurance companies, but have to be paid for by the patients themselves," says the expert, according to dpa.

However, over-the-counter does not mean harmless. "Like any other effective medication, pain relievers can also have side effects and lead to complications," explained Dr. Jan Paulus, doctor at the AOK Baden-Württemberg.

“To avoid undesirable effects, it is important to ensure that they are used correctly. This is especially true for people who have certain pre-existing conditions or who use painkillers more often. ”

Treat pain naturally
At the specialist congress in Mannheim, the experts will deal in particular with the widespread headache.

"Many people put all of these complaints together, but tension headache is completely different from migraines," Förderreuther told the German Press Agency.

If you have a frequent headache, you need to see a doctor urgently. "This prevents the pain from becoming chronic. There are also good prevention options. Overall, this can significantly improve the quality of life. "

However, medication is not the only treatment option. Congress President Professor Dr. Matthias Keidel, chief physician at the Bad Neustadt / Saale campus, referred to non-drug therapies in the communication:

"Relaxation procedures such as Jacobson's progressive muscle relaxation, endurance sports and various types of biofeedback, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy can help get a headache under control."

BAV Vice-Chief Kammermeier also explained in the dpa report that you don't always have to take medication for a headache: “Exercise, a cold washcloth, liquid, a pressure massage or peppermint oil can also help here.” (Ad)

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