Guide Medicinal Product

Self-medication: the advice of a doctor

Dr. Loïc Etienne, emergency physician and inventor of the tool for analyzing symptoms on the web, e-doctor, gives his advice on self-medication.

As a doctor, what is your view on self-medication?

Dr. Loïc Etienne: I advocate for over 20 years self-medication, it's absurd to be against. It is a natural act to want to relieve suffering as quickly as possible. There are several reasons to turn to self-medication: congested medical practices, economic reasons (it costs less), and lack of time.

Are there multiple forms of self-medication?

Dr. L. E: There are 3 types of self-medication: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Primary self-medication consists in relieving a symptom felt (not necessarily requiring the advice of a doctor). Secondary self-medication, or remedy, resides in the fact of resuming a treatment already followed for the same type of symptom. In this case, it is called self-diagnosis and can be false or even dangerous. Tertiary self-medication applies for chronic conditions, such as asthma. The patient will be able to adapt his doses according to the intensity of his symptoms.

How to make self-medication safer?

Dr LE: To avoid the drifts of the self-diagnosis, it is necessary to set up rules:

  1. Do not take the treatment for more than 48 hours.
  2. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.
  3. In case of consultation with a doctor, prevent the self-medication treatments followed from the beginning of the consultation.
  4. Check the expiry date of the drugs.

However, it must be kept in mind that self-medication is not an end in itself, but it allows people to adapt self-vigilance behavior. They develop a preventive behavior and are more attentive to their symptoms. Self-medication is an aspect of self-vigilance, but it is only a first answer.

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