The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is promoting the message that people who are unwell should speak to a pharmacist rather than attempt to diagnose their symptoms themselves. This comes as the Society releases new survey findings showing that 51 per cent of adults in Great Britain self-diagnose, with the majority of these consulting the internet to get to the bottom of their symptoms.

The YouGov survey of 2,046 adults was prompted by concerns over the growing trend of consulting websites and health apps for advice on symptoms and ailments. It reveals that just over a fifth have used pain relief medication not prescribed for them following self-diagnosis, a statistic the RPS describes as “shocking”.

Neal Patel, head of communications at the RPS, said: “DIY diagnosis can be downright dangerous. You could be missing something a pharmacist or doctor would know was important.”

“Always speak to a health professional before buying medicines to treat a health problem. It’s shocking that 43 per cent 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.”

Olutayo Arikawe, community pharmacist and winner of the RPS I Love my Pharmacist competition said: “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.”

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