How Has Medication Changed Our Approach to Health?

It wasn’t too long ago that the only option you had for healing wounds, repairing infections, or other medical ailments was to go to your local barber or herbalist, and hope they didn’t experiment you into a worse problem. Although we’re grateful for those who worked hard to experiment and discover a piece of moldy bread pressed to a wound would make it heal faster, it’s much more efficient and safer to have access to the penicillin in pill form. How has having medication given us as humanity, a different approach to our health?

Provides More Options

It’s easy to forget sometimes how much has changed in even the last one hundred years. You most likely have not had a close family member die of scarlet fever, or an ear infection. What changed? Scarlet fever, for example, is caused by the bacteria streptococcus, which causes strep throat. If left untreated, it progresses to the much more intense scarlet fever, which can be fatal, especially in children. But antibiotics began being introduced in the 1930’s, and were a miracle medication to treat bacterial infections. Strep could be cured by going to the doctor, instead of “waiting it out.”

Reduces Complicated Treatments

Illnesses like polio and rubella, tetanus, and other things which could cause disability or death have had vaccines developed, which not only caused immunity, but, with herd immunity, eradicated the fear of such illnesses even for those immunocompromised. Innovations in medication can combine multiple steps into one. For example, instead of taking three pills for your blood pressure and a diuretic, there are combination pills which treat all at once.

Mental Health Hope

Though finding the right combinations can be complicated sometimes for practitioners in treating complex illnesses, patients who suffer from illnesses as diverse as OCD, anxiety, depression or schizophrenia now have hope in both therapy and ongoing medication treatments. This releases the stigma of mental health issues, especially in the realization that mental health is related to an organ, just like diabetes or a wound to a lung.

It’s important to remember that anything which can cause great good (even vitamins) has potential to do great harm if used in incorrect proportions or in the wrong way. Medication needs to be used judiciously, and under the care of a physician. But, when used well, they can bring about massive changes in the lives of those who use them.

Read this next: Why You Should Think of Exercise as a Health Treatment

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