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DIY Diagnosis: Self-Diagnosis and Self Medication

October 15, 2018

Self-diagnosis a closter of different coloured drug capsules.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

In a 2016 UK survey by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), concerns were raised about ‘DIY diagnosis’ and the trends of ‘self-diagnosis’ and self-medication.

The RPS survey indicates exposure to wrong treatments or medication happens as a result of self-diagnosis.

The survey looked at how people arrived at their treatment choices.

It seems to arise mainly from:

  • looking on the internet for medical advice,
  • listening to family and friends,
  • or (and this is a worrying high group) medicine peddlers in busy markets or bus stations.

Implications of Self-Diagnosis

This suggests 3 things :

  • No access or unwillingness to access the traditional routes of medical care i.e., seeing a doctor.
  • Willingness to check their symptoms against an online symptoms checker or health app.
  • Willingness to share symptoms with trusted friends and follow their advice.

According to the RPS, self-treatment increases people’s risk of assuming they have a condition they do not.

This of course, since friends may be non-medical and online symptoms are just a guide only.

Thus, they receive a treatment that may not actually work or may worsen their symptoms.

So, Why Self-Diagnose?

For many, the convenience of easy access to ‘help’ without waiting for a doctor’s appointment.

Or simply listening to a trusted friend seems an easier/more comforting way to operate.

In parts of Africa, ‘DIY diagnosis‘ is the norm for many other reasons: costs of consultations being mainly at the top of the bar.

Next is geographical access to quality treatment. 

In most homes, are Mums or Grandmas with medicine chests have ideas of what to do with ‘Apollo’ (conjunctivitis), ‘jedi-jedi’  (dysentery), ‘craw craw’ (skin rash/lice) and many other ailments.

Some may or may not be in line with modern medical thinking.

While it is important to be self-aware, also recognise limitations on your knowledge so you are not put in harm’s way.

 Self-diagnosis can help unclutter busy clinics or hospital waiting rooms filled with ‘the worried well’.

In addition, we should recognise its role as a guide.

People should be made aware of the need to seek appropriate care advice via their local treatment centres.

Thus, there is no alternative to quality care when and where you need it.

Poor substitutes, at best, delay access to the right treatment and, at worse, create very significant complications.

More Reading

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and help promote quality healthcare. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly

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