Today the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has released the results of a national survey revealing that over half (51%) of GB adults self-diagnose when feeling unwell or experiencing a medical symptom. Of those surveyed, over three quarters (78%) have sought medical advice from the internet when they required a diagnosis, whilst 10% have used a health app.
Worryingly, more than two in five (43%) admitted they have used pain relief medication not prescribed for them after self-diagnosing.
RPS took to the airways on national and local TV and radio stations to drive the message home that your local community pharmacist should be the first person you speak to when feeling unwell and before taking medication.
Neal Patel, RPS Head of Communications said: “DIY diagnosis can be downright dangerous. You could be missing something a pharmacist or doctor would know was important. Whilst there are good online sites, there’s an awful lot of nonsense out there too.
“Always speak to a health professional before buying medicines to treat a health problem. It’s shocking that 43% of those who self-diagnose have borrowed pain relief medication prescribed for someone else to treat their own problem without advice. These medicines can be addictive and cause other serious side-effects. If you have severe pain it should always be investigated properly.”
Pharmacists are often one of the first points of contact for families with health worries, which is why recognising and understanding the importance of the role they play in the community is vital for patient care.
Olutayo Arikawe, community pharmacist and winner of the RPS I Love my Pharmacist competition talked to seven radio stations saying: “Self-diagnosis online is on the rise but we need to be careful. Technology has a huge part to play in patient care and can lead to some great benefits, however, diagnosing your own symptoms online should be approached with caution.
“This is where good advice from a pharmacist is vital. Pharmacists can help patients understand what’s wrong and help choose which medicines are the best to treat their problem. In addition, pharmacists know how to treat minor illnesses and can tell a minor ailment from something that might be more serious.
“Pharmacists are your health experts on the high street. We are open long hours and you don’t need an appointment. We now have private consultation areas where you can explain your problem and you won’t be overheard. Come and talk to us - our advice could make all the difference to your future health.”
Listen to Olutayo Arikawe on Radio 5 Live
Watch Zafar Khan on London Live.
Watch Neal Patel on Good Morning Britain