The Dangers of DIY Diagnosis & Self-Supplementation
The convenience of the internet is something we all take for granted, but one thing we shouldn’t take for granted is our health. It may seem convenient to do a quick Google search for a solution to a painful or ongoing health problem. However, this can lead us down the path of self-medicating for a self-diagnosed condition, to save ourselves a trip to a qualified health professional. While there are obvious time and cost savings in being able to purchase supplements without seeing a qualified health practitioner, prescribing yourself with over-the-counter supplements without sufficient knowledge on whether it is suitable for your condition, can sometimes do more harm than good.
Here are 7 reasons why you should avoid Googling your symptoms and self-supplementing with over-the-counter or discount online products and consult a qualified practitioner for advice on which treatment may be appropriate for your health condition.
1. Incorrect diagnosis
There are a variety of factors that could be causing or contributing to your health condition. A Google search of your symptoms may offer a quick means of diagnosing a health problem but can result in an inaccurate self-diagnosis of your condition and generalised treatment information that may not be applicable to your individualised condition. Without guided advice from a qualified health practitioner, you may be taking the incorrect supplements for a wrongly diagnosed condition.
2. Biased information
Some of the health articles on the web are written to look like an information piece about a health condition, but may actually be paid or sponsored articles with a vested interest in their audience purchasing a certain product (example below). While most still have some educational value, the authors of these articles may be paid by the brand to include a subtle reference or include a link to a product, leading one to question the credibility of any product recommendations made. A good natural medicine practitioner, however, should have your best health interests in mind when prescribing you the natural medicines appropriate for your health condition.
Paid articles, or advertorials, are written to provide information but often have a vested interest in selling a product.
3. Risk of missing the cause of an illness or condition
If you treat only the symptoms, you may not be addressing the underlying cause of your health condition, and this may result in the problem reoccurring. Suppressing the symptoms with self-supplementation may provide temporary relief but mask a serious or underlying condition and delay a professional and timely diagnosis. By working together with a qualified natural health practitioner, you are in a better position to have your illness properly identified and a treatment plan developed and tailored to your individual circumstances and lifestyle.
After Googling your symptoms, you might be tempted to purchase some supplements, but it is wise to stop and consider where those supplements are made. Some supplements available for sale on online pharmacies are manufactured and produced overseas, where the regulatory standards of safety and quality may not be as rigorous as in Australia. In these instances, the quality of these supplements can vary considerably, and actual ingredients can differ from those you see on the product label. Information about these products and appropriate action for recourse may be difficult to obtain if a consumer suffers adverse reactions from taking the product.
5. Retail product labels can be confusing
With so many different supplements on the shelves, product labels can at times be quite overwhelming and confusing. With complex ingredients or various nutrient forms listed on the label (magnesium citrate vs magnesium oxide, for example) consumers may encounter difficulties understanding the information contained in the label. Additionally, the dosage sizes used in ingredient lists may differ, making a fair product comparison difficult.
6. You don’t necessarily get what you pay for
Hundreds of products on the retail market boast miraculous health benefits, yet may contain very little of the active ingredient in its products. Some manufacturers charge exorbitant amounts for a product with negligible doses. This is especially the case if the label has incredibly effective marketing campaigns that draw on trending consumer fads, the popularity of a paid celebrity endorsement or influencer.
While natural medicines appear safe, as with any medical treatment, there is potential for adverse reactions or interactions with other medications. Taking self-prescribed supplements without an understanding of the interactions that may occur, may give rise to negative side-effects that can at times, be severe, putting your health at risk.
A qualified health practitioner is best placed to assist patients in prescribing the right supplements, natural medicines or lifestyle changes for their health condition. It is this belief that underpins BioMedica’s position on strictly practitioner-only products. To find a natural health practitioner who can help you achieve greater health outcomes, please use our Find a Practitioner function at www.biomedica.com.au/find-a-practitioner