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8 Ways to Avoid Common Self-Care Mistakes
Treating common illnesses at home isn't complicated. Even so, doing it safely requires knowledge and a willingness to follow the rules.
You don’t want to call your doctor over every little fever or sniffle. But when you’re calling the shots, you want to be confident you’re making wise health care decisions.
Here are steps to take to avoid some common self-care mistakes.
1. Watch the dose
Don’t take more medication than the label recommends. Some people think if one dose of medication is good for them, then two must be even better. But the dosage recommendations on the package are there to protect you.
For example, too much ibuprofen over time can cause gastrointestinal bleeding or ulcers. Too much acetaminophen can cause liver damage. Overdosing on some over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications may cause extreme drowsiness or seizures.
2. Treat the cause
Don’t treat symptoms without treating their cause. One danger of self-treating with OTC drugs is you may confuse symptom relief with a cure—meaning your underlying health problem may continue or worsen even as you start feeling better.
A better approach? Get the advice of your pharmacist or doctor.
3. Call your doctor
Don’t treat too long before calling your doctor. You don’t always save money by not seeing the doctor. Often the reverse is true—a doctor visit could save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in medical costs if it keeps a small problem from becoming a big one.
For example, if you don’t start taking antibiotics right away for that urinary tract infection, what began as a minor condition could evolve into a full-blown kidney infection that requires stronger, more expensive antibiotics or even hospitalization.
4. Don't borrow meds
Don’t use someone else’s prescription medications. It’s common for people to give friends or family members their medications to try. But that’s not safe for several reasons.
For starters, some drugs require a prescription because they may not be safe for everyone, may need special monitoring, and may interact with other medications. A doctor prescribes medications based on a physical examination, test results, health history, and knowledge of other drugs a person is taking. That’s why a drug that’s beneficial for one person could be harmful for another.
5. Don't keep the leftovers
Don’t use leftover prescription medications. Suppose you have medication left over from a previous illness and then you develop similar symptoms. Does it make sense to take the leftover medication? Not necessarily. Your symptoms may be the same, but the condition—and its appropriate treatment—may be different.
6. Caution on herbal remedies
Don’t take herbal or other alternative medicines without telling your doctor. Most people don’t realize herbal remedies are drugs and need to be taken cautiously. Some of them can raise blood pressure, thin the blood, or interact with other medications you may be taking.
For this reason, be sure to get your doctor’s OK before taking them; and when your doctor prescribes a medication, always speak up about any alternative treatments you use.
7. Follow your doctor's advice
Don’t substitute the advice of friends or family for a doctor’s expertise. An old family remedy for a stomachache or arthritis may be helpful, or at worst, do you no harm. But it’s always wise to ask your doctor for a professional opinion, particularly if the treatment could be risky or your condition could be serious.
8. Look for good information
Don’t consult just any health book or Internet site. If a book or website promises a magical cure, or makes outspoken claims against the conventional medical approach, that’s a good clue to be wary of its advice.
Also, some Internet sites are sponsored by companies that are more interested in selling their products than in serving your best interests. When in doubt, ask your doctor to recommend the best source of information for your needs.
When to call
How do you know when it’s time to stop self-treating a health problem and get on the phone to your doctor? An important clue: Are you getting better, or is the problem lingering or getting worse?
These are examples of when to call:
A cough that persists
A headache that won't go away or that keeps coming back
Heartburn that keeps returning
Fever that lasts more than a few days
Knowledge is Power.
The Diabetes Education Program at Broward Health Medical Center can teach you how to live a healthier and more productive life!
Currently, nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Seventy-nine million Americans have prediabetes – elevated blood sugar that increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Researchers predict that by the year 2050, the number of Americans with diabetes will increase to one in three. Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
In order to determine whether or not you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, your physician conducts a Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) Test or an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). Either test can be used to diagnose pre-diabetes or diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends the FPG because it is easier, faster and less expensive to perform.
With the FPG test, a fasting blood glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dl signals pre-diabetes. A person with a fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or higher has diabetes.
In the OGTT, a person's blood glucose level is measured after a fast and two hours after drinking a glucose-rich beverage. If the two-hour blood glucose level is between 140 and 199 mg/dl, the person tested has pre-diabetes. If the two-hour blood glucose level is at 200 mg/dl or higher, the person tested has diabetes.
ABCs of Diabetes
Our personalized diabetes program targets the ABCs of diabetes
- A: is for A(1)C- a blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels during the last three months. Goal: less than 7%.
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- Total cholesterol: Less than 200mg/dl
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The Diabetes Education Program is located on the 8th floor of the Physician Office Building of Broward Health Medical Center. A physician, professional staff or self-referrals are welcome. Click here for our referral prescription form.
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If you do not have a physician and would like a physician referral, please call the Broward Health Line at 954-759-7400. Most insurance companies reimburse and encourage education for their clients with diabetes. Any questions regarding coverage should be referred to your insurance provider.