Most of us are under the impression that medication and therapy can be used only for the treatment of disease conditions. That it is the last resort that can be used when we are experiencing some form of disease or the other. But in the modern times medicine has evolved that they are used for so many purposes along with treatment of the disease condition. And these uses have proven to be very useful to patients. Below are some of the following uses of drugs in the modern day practice of medicine.
For disease treatment
An almost perfect diagnosis is crucial before starting treatment of any kind, be it within the hospital or home therapy, which may either cure or, more often, control a disease process. A correct diagnosis makes sure that a patient is not unnecessarily exposed to the cost or the risks related to a certain intervention. However, a prior diagnosis may not be possible in every circumstance; for example, in infection, starting off a ‘blind’ antimicrobial treatment is justified when the delay might put the patient at an even greater risk or would keep him/her in discomfort. The choice of the drug often depends on clinical factors (such as age, concomitant disease and concurrent therapy), pharmaceutical factors (the availability of other medicines and relative cost-effectiveness) and, increasingly, individual (host) factors. For instance, trastuzumab has some value only in women who have been diagnosed as having breast cancer of the type where the cancer cells express the HER2 receptor on the cells. Because this drug targets these receptors only. Therefore you need to target or tailor the treatment dependending on the use of biomarkers (e.g. genetic polymorphisms or the pattern of expression of the genes), is increasingly being used. And this kind of approach to treating patients is what is known as personalised medicine.
For symptom relief
Drugs are frequently used in the relief of symptoms: for example, in the treatment of severe pain, constipation or pruritus which is a common condition found in the elderly home care Singapore. The issue here is to monitor the patient so that the effectiveness of symptom relief can be judged and, if it is inadequate, either the dose or drug can be altered. Ensure that the drug is stopped when no longer indicated. Doctors are good at starting drugs but very bad at stopping them!
For the purpose of prevention
But medicine is not always only given to people who are unwell. Medication is also given to individuals who are healthy and do not have any apparent disease. This is because doctors or medical personnel feel that these individuals are at a risk of impending disease. That they are more prone to risk of infection and so on. And in order to prevent them from developing such diseases the are given medication that acts as a form of prevention. But for this to happen and for you to go ahead and prescribe drugs in such a manner the benefits of giving the drug to the patient must outweigh the risks that the drug can cause. Examples of drugs used for the purpose of prevention is vaccines who are actually given to children to prevent them from developing certain diseases, eg: the influenza vaccine, or certain drugs which are given to individuals who are prone to ischemic heart disease and the drugs help to prevent them from developing a myocardial infarction, or even the oral contraceptives that women taken in order to prevent a pregnancy.