Search This Blog

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Internet Self-Medicating

Internet Access
It was naive of me not to realize that just about anything can be found via the Internet these days...medications that normally require a doctor's prescription are easily obtained and used in whatever way the person sees fit.  But fit, is what you'll be missing if you do this with just any drug.  The reason that physicians and non-physician licensed providers can write prescriptions is because they are responsible for the welfare of their patient and have the opportunity to let the person know about side effects, intended effects and so forth.  The pharmacists can double check the appropriate usage and dose of the med such that the patient can be confident of a good outcome.  If you purchase what you believe you need over the web because you read it in a blog somewhere, beware!

Case in Point
A young woman realized that she was pregnant and figured out that it was likely in the very early stages of development...about 8 weeks along.  She confided in her girlfriend that she wasn't planning to carry the baby to term and was seeking an abortion; however, she was in a foreign country and didn't want to look for medical assistance.  Her girlfriend, who was not a medical professional, told her about a medication called Cytotec (misoprostol), a drug developed for stomach disorders, that would cause her uterus to abort the pregnancy.  The friend knew that this drug could be bought without a prescription on the Internet and taken in privacy without medical follow up.  What she didn't know is how dramatic and frightening the drug's effects could be.  The blogs that she consulted failed to mention some key risks including the fact that the unintended pregnancy might be lodged in fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy) and result in death. 

The young woman took the Cytotec anyway, and she did indeed have a much worse outcome that what she imagined.  Her bleeding was severe, forcing her to seek emergency medical care despite her strong wishes to avoid just that.  Ultimately, she was fine, but getting her through that experience made me stop and think how many thousands of other women have tried to go it alone for medical abortion and a host of other medical problems because they knew that the Internet afforded an end-around play to avoid a doctor.

It's just not wise.  If you have a medical issue, and you've read about the treatment in the blogosphere or gotten the advice of a non-medical person, don't believe that it will be fine to go it alone when it comes to treatment.  Even though there might be a YouTube "How To" video somewhere, you probably wouldn't take out a kitchen knife to remove your own appendix; likewise, you definitely shouldn't take out your laptop and order up pharmaceuticals either.

No comments:

Post a Comment