The dangers of self-medication
Source: Programa Fantástico, Globo, 14/10/2007
When you feel a headache, catch a cold or have insomnia, what do you do? Are you looking for a doctor or taking medication on your own? An unprecedented survey reveals that six out of ten Brazilians choose self-medication, a dangerous habit that is making more and more victims.
“I have been a doctor since I was 15 years old. I took the package insert, read the indication, went there and took it ”, says student Amanda Diniz.
“I started to self-medicate because I didn't believe in hospital very much. I thought I was going to get better fast by taking these drugs, ”says adman Armando Ribeiro.
Armando had serious circulation problems. “My legs hurt, the soles of my feet looked like they were raw,” he recalls.
But he only medicated himself by listening to hunches.
“Take one a day. It is a minimal dose, which will not harm you. Then, I took it ”, says the publicist.
Student Amanda Diniz spends day and night taking medication.
“I wake up, I already put the medicine on my nose. It is the first thing I do. I'm going to sleep with the decongestant on the side. I have one in the living room, one in my room, one in the bag and two in reserve. Is very. I can't be without. I am totally addicted ”, he admits.
Amanda and Armando became protagonists of dramatic cases, victims of self-medication.
“The internet kind of fuels my addiction. If I think I have nausea, I research nausea on the internet, see what the symptoms are, what I can take. Then just put: 'nausea medicine'. The internet is going to give everything ”, points out Amanda.
Fantástico's reporting team tried to buy two prescription drugs over the internet: Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid that some athletes use to increase muscle mass, but which can even cause cancer; and Femproporex, a dangerous appetite suppressant.
“The risk is chemical dependency. It is a dependency. It is like a cocaine addiction ”, warns Luiz Querino, professor of clinical toxicology at the Federal Fluminense University (UFF).
A week later, the order arrived. The two boxes of Nandrolona, with red stripe, came and the other with Femproporex, with black stripe.
“It has its own communities for this, for people who self-medicate”, shows student Amanda Diniz.
In the crowd, how many people take medicine on their own? And how many see the doctor before? After hearing about 28 people in almost 50 countries, researchers came to a conclusion: more than half of the population today is self-medicating.
The survey reveals complaint number 1 of respondents: headache.
“I take direct analgesic, medicine for headache, dipyrone. For me, it's just like water, ”says Amanda.
Second, there is the cold, with 31%. Third, sleep disturbance, with 30%. In all, 32% of the people interviewed said that they go to the doctor or the dentist when they get sick; 14% said they do not go to the doctor or take medicine; and 54% take medication on their own.
“I take home medicine,” says butcher Gilmar Silva.
“I treat myself at home. It usually works, yes ”, comments Maria Inês dos Santos, who is unemployed.
In Brazil, this rate is even higher: 57%.
“I didn't know it was bad,” says dressmaker Josefa Figueiredo. She had to undergo a blood transfusion. He was taking a regular pain reliever and had hemorrhage.
“Are you taking four a day? I don't know how you are still alive, ”said the seamstress, referring to the doctor's reaction at the hospital.
What about controlled drugs? Is it easy to buy without a prescription? The Fantástico's reporting team asked professor Luiz Querino for a list of the drugs that most appear in cases of intoxication and hospitalization.
With the list, and without a prescription, we took to the streets. We started with an antibiotic: amoxylin. Then, a bronchodilator for children with a congested chest. The medication is used to nebulize.
“An extra drop for an underweight child can cause poisoning. It may cause an increase in heart rate, a tachycardia in this child ”, warns the representative of the UFF Intoxication Control Center, Lília Ribeiro Guerra.
We even managed to buy antidepressants. None of the four pharmacies we visited in Rio de Janeiro refused to sell red-label drugs. In one of them, in the absence of the antidepressant we ordered, the attendant recommends another.
“Within the need, this one can be even better. This calms down well, relaxes well ”, said the pharmacy salesman.
Two minutes later, the same man suggests a third medication.
“But you need to know if the person is used to taking it. This is bromazepam. It is much stronger ”, continues the pharmacy salesman.
"It is called a major tranquilizer, so much so that it is black stripe and creates what we call chemical addiction", explains the professor.
The seller of the pharmacy knows what he is doing: “That is why we cannot negotiate the product without a doctor's prescription. I'm just going to take it out of the box, okay? ”.
He who sells without the box because it contains the batch number of the medicine, the only way to track who sold it.
When Armando Ribeiro, the publicist who did not believe in hospital very much, went to the doctor, it was too late.
“It was a thrombosis. Then I found out what I did to myself. I already knew that I would wake up after anesthesia, if I woke up, without my left leg ”, says Armando.
Student Amanda Diniz cannot get rid of the addiction.
“It is a wrong thing, but it is stronger than me. When I see it, I already bought the medicine, I already took it. I will always buy, ”he says.
“Every substance is a poison. It depends on the dose ”, concludes Professor Luiz Querino.
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