Gone are the days that people are happy to simply follow the advice of their family doctor. Todays’ consumers are much more confident in maintaining their own health. They are very comfortable in managing a particular condition, discussing it with family and friends or checking it out on Google. Only sometimes, or if a script is required, will they seek professional advice.

People’s busy lifestyles don’t always allow for time off and the inconvenience of visiting a doctor. Perhaps your medical aid has expired for the current year, or maybe you are simply so sure that with the help of a little over the counter medication, you will soon be as right as rain!

The thinking is: “IT’S MY LIFE AND MY HEALTH” – and people want to be in control of their own medication. On the whole there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. HOWEVER unbeknownst to you, you may be compromising your own health. Advice from a pharmacist may alert you to the fact that you are taking completely the wrong medication, or perhaps, although you are on the right track, you could be taking something much better!! Some of the things that might not even have entered your head are:

  • Are you perhaps taking medicine that you don’t even need.
  • Are you sure you are taking your meds correctly: Before or after a meal. (not all anti- inflammatories should be taken after food). Should tablets be swallowed whole, crushed or dissolved in water: Some meds must be swallowed whole because of their formulation, ensuring uniform delivery during the course of the day.
  • If experiencing side effects, it may not be necessary to stop the treatment altogether as a simple adjustment to the dosage may solve the problem.
  • Is the side effect normal, or are you actually experiencing something altogether different.
  • Is your OTC medication safe in combination with your chronic medication. For this reason it is important to chat with your pharmacist who can tell you what will work best for you. Chronic illnesses can be extremely multi-faceted. Many of the millions of South Africans who are diabetic or have high blood pressure may also have gout or lower back pain. Adding a pain killer over a period of time will compromise your kidneys, which in turn will affect your blood pressure and diabetes!
  • Some people prefer homeopathic medications and many are of the impression that these are perfectly safe because they are derived from natural sources. This is not the case at all, and some are as potent as prescription drugs. Activated Charcoal, for example, is used for bloatedness and gastric discomfort. It is very effective but must not be administered with other meds because it will absorb and inactivate that too.
  • Are there alternative medications available that do not cause drowsiness. It is pointless to self- medicate using something that makes you so drowsy that you cannot keep your eyes open! For example there are really effective alternatives to tranquilisers, available over the counter, which can “take the edge off” but not cloud your judgement and affect your concentration. The newer cough mixtures provide relief without any sedating effects whatsoever, and are even safe for tiny babies
  • As a serious sports person are you selecting medication that is safe and permitted in competitive sport. The list is extensive.
  • Pregnant women, or those planning to conceive, are usually extremely cautious. Care even needs to be taken when selecting a multivitamin. Folic acid early on is the most critical of all the vitamins. Others such as Vitamin A and Iodine can be harmful to the baby.

Our pharmacists at M-KEM are here to protect you from yourself.  Over the years we have fielded calls for advice from as far away as Australia and the USA. We are a team of more than 15 full time pharmacists under the watchful eye of Mr M who has been dispensing advice to the community for 55 years.


We are here to help you.