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Pill Poppers - Beware!

Gagan Dhir

Are you one of those self-medicating souls who reaches for a pill every time you feel the beginnings of a headache? Well, stop now, before playing self-appointed doctor lands you in an emergency room.


You are working late into the night in front of your computer. Your eyes are aching and your head is beginning to feel like it contains a tonne of wet concrete. Chances are, your are not one of those sensible souls who will wisely listen to your body that is crying out for a comfortable bed and a warm blanket. Instead, you will pop a headache pill, wash down a couple of vitamins for good measure, and then perhaps, a sleeping pill, because your body is so tired that you cannot unwind. The next morning, you wake up, sick. Sounds familiar?

If it does, wake up and see the writing on the wall - now. Definitely, saving on doctor’s fees will leave your wallet happy. It can also leave you playing a harp in the clouds, or at the very least, cause you serious harm. Even repeated use of aspirin (acetyl salicylic acid) can lead to near fatal consequences. To help your body help itself, try following these guidelines:

Your New Cold is Not the Same as the Old One
When you wake up with sniffles, do not reach for the pills left over from the last bout. Worse still, do not pick up an old prescription and toddle down to the friendly neighbourhood chemist who will fill in the prescription obligingly.

Simply, your new disease is not the same as the old one, just because one or two symptoms may overlap. For example, your physician prescribes an antibiotic for that sore throat and your fever. The next time your throat feels scratchy, you chuckle over the doctor’s fees you are saving and have the same medicine but this time, the infecting agent may be a virus and not a bacteria, that will not respond to antibiotics.

Bottom line - not only is your self-medication completely ineffective, you have also reduced the abilities of your body’s resistance system. You may set off a vicious cycle in which your poor, confused body starts protecting resistant strains of infecting agents.

Further down the line, if you fall prey to the same malaise, you will require stronger (and more expensive) medication.

Antibiotics are Serious Drugs and Should not be Consumed without a Doctor’s Prescription
Most Self-Medicators Believe that antibiotics are often the cure for everything, especially colds and sore throats. Well, know this. There are several varieties of antibiotics available, each designed to tackle a specific ailment, and unless you have a Dr. before you name, you are not equipped to decide which one to take. What is more, too many self-prescribed antibiotics can destroy friendly bacteria and create side effects ranging from super infections to allergic reactions.

Try and Relieve Yourself with Natural Methods First - Keep Pill Popping for Serious Problems
Instead of reaching for a pill every time you fell a twinge, think. The human body is designed to withstand tremendous pain -think about it as a building character if nothing else works. While unbearable pain definitely needs prescribed medication, minor discomfort can often be handled with common sense tactics.

For instance, when you have a headache, try a cold compress or (if you find an obliging soul), a head massage. Similarly, a hot water bottle or lying on your stomach often helps relieve a stomach ache of cramps quicker than any pill.

The Pill You Pop Could Land you in an Operation Theatre
The Most common reaction to fever is to pop a pill, instead of ascertaining its cause. If you persist in treating your own fever, not only will your body temperature fall abnormally, you can hurt your stomach and intestinal linings through which the medicine is absorbed.

A doctor quotes the cause of a student who had fever and took antiinflammatory pills every three hours during his examinations. This led to bleeding ulcers in his intestines - emergency surgery -and a month-long stint in the hospital. Believe me, a blood test and a visit to the doctor is a whole less painful!

Similarly, (this one is for the asthmatics) inhalers are for patients in distress. Consuming steroids indiscriminately can adversely affect your body’s production of steroids.

There can be too Much of a Good Thing
This is vitamins we are talking about here-the same ones you have with breakfast every morning. Well, get a load of this. Not only do you not need those vitamins, (a well-rounded diet with the essential food groups will suffice) you can actually harm yourself by consuming too many vitamins, as they can be toxic. Hypervitaminosis of A and D is a common enough situation caused by overdoses of vitamin A and D-you don’t want to suffer from it!

Boost Your Natural Immune System
A Solid foundation makes for a sturdy building. Your body is born with the power and the ability to tackle most minor and major infections. Help it increase its strength by keeping your body fit and healthy. Follow a mild exercise regimen, try avoiding smoking and drinking as both erode your body’s resistance, and develop healthy eating habits. The best thing that you can do for yourself is to recognise the language your body speaks. Get in tune with yourself. Learn to recognise the fact that your body is asking to rest or perhaps some sleep and not those vitamins or sleeping pills. Do not hesitate to question your doctor or ask him explain you medication, and never put off a trip to the doctor simply because it is to much of a hassle or too time-consuming.

Remember, the human body is one of nature’s finest creations - imagine it as a well-equipped laboratory with an in-built defence system that can ace any cold or headache which comes its way. While our self-dedicate, you are upsetting its delicate balance and leave your system vulnerable to further disease.

Your system has enough natural antibodies that can often produce an effective response. Medication is intended to aid it, albeit temporarily, not replace it.

If you want to resist in helping yourself - well put in five-and-a-half-years at a medical school first - otherwise, keep a healthy distance from you medicine cabinet!

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