Should I be taking these meds?

It’s often easy and convenient to look up any topic in this day and age, but when it comes to your health, how do you know what information you can trust? Self-diagnosis can be dangerous, which is why Hello Doctor is here to help walk your through your symptoms. You might wonder whether or not you need a prescription medication for your condition, but how would you know?

So do you really need that medication? Let’s take a look.

A quick flu fix
Body pains, a congested nose and a scratchy throat… all reasons to run to the pharmacy or your local GP, right? Stocking up on flu and cold remedies may make you feel like you are on the road to recovery but the road is still going to last for at least one week, whether you use medication or home remedies.

If flu medication is used excessively – and without real purpose – it could cause health problems like headaches, sleeping problems and more severe issues, like liver failure, hallucinations and seizures. Before swallowing pills in the hope of skipping the flu, try home remedies and get plenty of rest.

Stop the cough
No-one likes a scratchy throat, so it’s no wonder that you reach for your trusty cough syrup when your throat has a tickle. Coughing is your body’s way of trying to get rid of excess mucus and other irritants when you are sick, so suppressing it may not be the best idea. There is no solid evidence that over-the-counter drugs can really cure your cough – they usually just suppress the coughing mechanism.

Natural remedies, like honey in hot water or tea, as well as gargling with salt, often does the trick better than cough syrup, as it helps to loosen mucus and soothes your throat.

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Painkillers
If you have a headache during a busy day, you’d think it’s better to take a pill than to try to cure it naturally, but you could be trading one problem for another. Painkillers have a pleasure factor – which can make them addictive. There are many reasons for that headache besides stress, like thirst and hunger, so before you reach for the bottle, have a glass of water, take a short break, or eat something. If you are experiencing severe headaches regularly, speak to your doctor about over-the-counter (OTC) medications or a prescription.

Antacids to the rescue
Ah, that juicy burger was great, but now you feel that familiar acidic sensation and you reach for your dissolvable heartburn relief. Antacids are usually taken to reduce high levels of acidity in your stomach after eating, like heartburn or digestive problems. It is one of the most popular OTC medications, but turning to antacids once too often can lead to diarrhoea and constipation. If you have liver or kidney problems, speak with your doctor about antacids. Try to prevent heartburn by watching your diet, as opposed to taking antacids as a remedy all the time.

Before you pop a pill:

  • Always read the labels on OTC medication to check for side effects or ingredients you may be allergic to.
  • Check with your doctor before taking any medication regularly.
  • Avoid researching your symptoms and self-diagnosing.
  • Always try natural remedies first, if possible.

Chat to a Doctor on the Hello Doctor app about which OTC medicines are best for you

References
http://www.webmd.com/drug-medication/otc-pain-relief-10/pain-relievers-double-dose
http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/cough-medicine-should-you-shouldnt-you?page=3
http://health365.com.au/articles/common-ailments/unnecessary-medicines-we-take
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/in-depth/cold-remedies/art-20046403?pg=1