Self-medication has recently emerged as an important aspect of healthcare. It encourages patients to choose from a variety of over-the-counter drugs to treat their minor illness. The extent and reasons for practices of self-medication may vary. Since every coin has two sides, it also involves risk of misdiagnosis, prolonged duration of usage and use of an excessive dose of the drug. One of the drugs used for self-medication is common heartburn drugs. When a patient with a heartburn consults his/her doctor, after a thorough examination he prescribes the common proton pump inhibitors(PPIs) to the patient which basically reduces the acid content in the stomach. Due to the easy availability of these common heartburn drugs, the patient tends to misuse them.
Here’s why you should not consume excessive amount of common heartburn drugs-
- A study found that overuse of PPIs has a drastic effect on health. These drugs tend to reduce the acid content in the stomach which may interfere with absorption of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins like vitamin B-12.
- Increased risk of dementia, vascular and heart diseases have been linked to misuse of common heartburn drugs. This has led many healthcare professionals to rethink its position among the over the counter drugs.
- These common heartburn drugs have shown to increase the aging of the cells which may lead to the above-mentioned problems. Recent studies have proven that use of these over-the-counter drugs has been more susceptible to acquire kidney disease.
- Misdiagnosis of the condition is a major drawback in self-medication. That stinging sensation in the chest may be more than just heartburn for those taking certain antacids.
- Long-term use of these common heartburn drugs has known to cause chronic diarrhea due to certain bacterial infections.
Researcher Cooke doesn’t think PPIs should be available over the counter. “They should be pulled off the shelves. They should be given by prescription and they should be medically monitored because of the risks,” he says.
Little do we realize the side effects of self-medication and the repercussions that follow. A minor health issue which could be solved by the doctor could become a grave issue due to use of these drugs. The increased risks and side effects of common heartburn drugs have given birth to an argument on whether it should be an over-the-counter drug or not!
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