Sunday, January 15, 2006

medication, self

The availability of "safe and effective" nonprescription medicines leads many elderly people to self-medicate rather than consult a physician. They are especially susceptible to the influence of modern advertising techniques. In the last two decades, television has had a tremendous impact on health-care attitudes with graphic ads extolling products to combat irregularity, diarrhea, hacking coughs, and tension headaches. The easy availability of these over-the-counter products masks the potential for abuse and dependency.
The most commonly used nonprescription medications include laxatives, antacids, analgesics, vitamins, sedatives, and cold preparations.
Withdrawal symptoms from physical dependency on these products can present a significant medical problem as can cardiovascular effects from cold preparations.
The elderly are also prone to the use of "quack remedies." A person who fails to obtain relief or the promise of hope from a debilitating illness through prescription medication will be more likely to rely on quackery.
Such therapies usually offer the promise of "cures" and "guaranteed" improvements tempting alternative to someone in pain. Dissatisfaction with impersonal attitudes and high costs of the established medical profession leads a patient to investigate unorthodox treatments. Cancer patients and those suffering from arthritis are particularly vulnerable to unproven remedies.
See also MEDICATION NONCOMPLIANCE; POLYPHARMOCOTHERAPY.
Covington, T., and Walker, J. Current Geriatric Therapy. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders, 1984.

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