Monday, January 26, 2009

The Curious Case of Medicines

Medicines are developed to make us feel better and get well when we are sick. Most probably, there are a lot more medicines than there are illnesses to be cured. Yet not very many realize that medicines have risks aside from their usual benefits. It may cause unwanted side effects or drug interactions with food or with other medicines you may be taking.

There are strict standards and guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when it comes to approving the sale of medicines to the general public. Benefits of over-the-counter and prescription medicines must outweigh its known risk. Otherwise, the FDA can withdraw a medication from the market if found to cause harmful side effects.

The benefits of medicines are the positive effects you get when you take them, such as lowering blood pressure, curing bacterial infection or relieving back pain. The risks of medicines are the chances that something unwanted or unexpected could happen to you when you use them. Some risks could be less serious, such as a headache, or more serious, such as liver damage. In order to reduce the risks, always follow the directions carefully when taking medicines.

Medicines are chemicals substances or compounds that are used for the treatment and prevention of diseases and its symptoms. Advances in medications have enabled doctors to find cure to many diseases and save lives.
Today's medicines come from varied sources. Some medicines have been developed from substances found in nature, such as plant extracts. But most are produced and developed in laboratories using chemical mixtures, or by products of organisms, such as fungus. And a few medicines are even biologically engineered by inserting genes into bacteria that make them produce the desired substance.

Medications come in different forms, such as tablets, pills, liquids, drops, creams, gels, ointments, inhalers, patches, and injectables. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication to avoid further aggravating your condition. Inform your health care provider about all of the medicines and supplements you are using to avoid possible drug interactions. It is important to mention if you are pregnant or nursing to avoid harmful effects to the unborn.

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