Medical Treatment

Medical treatment is the process by which health care professionals assess and treat a person’s illness, injury or disease. It is generally based on diagnosis and may include medical procedures, surgery, counseling and support groups. Modern medicine relies on a wide range of highly trained professional health workers who work together as an interdisciplinary team. These professionals include nurses, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, laboratory scientists, pharmacists, dietitians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and radiographers. Doctors are a part of this team, and they typically have specialized training in the medical field in which they practice.

The goal of medical treatment is to restore and maintain health. A health problem is defined as an abnormality or disturbance of the normal functioning of a body system. Disease is defined as the abnormal production, accumulation or breakdown of material that disrupts body functions. In addition to curing diseases, the goals of medical treatment include preventing them and alleviating symptoms when they occur.

Most countries have some form of universal healthcare that guarantees access to health services. These may include a nationalised health insurance scheme that is funded by taxpayers, compulsory private or mutual health insurance schemes or a combination of both. These are often combined with incentives and penalties to encourage patients to seek out preventative treatment, rather than waiting for a disease to become serious.

Medical treatments are based on scientific, evidence-based research. This replaced ancient Western traditions based on herbalism and the four humours, and was further enhanced by Edward Jenner’s development of the smallpox vaccine at the end of the 18th century, Robert Koch’s discovery of bacteria-borne disease in the early 1900s and other modern scientific discoveries that have transformed human life.

Medicinal treatments are generally administered through drugs, surgical procedures, diet and lifestyle changes or acupuncture. There are many types of drugs that have been developed and marketed to cure diseases, and the list continues to grow with the rapid advances in genetics and knowledge of evolution and molecular biology.

Some treatments do not cure a disease but control it, such as insulin treatment for people with Type 1 diabetes who will always need to take medication for the rest of their lives. However, new discoveries in pharmacology can lead to the development of more effective drugs that are better tolerated and less likely to have side effects.

Other medical treatments are aimed at improving quality of life, such as psychiatric care and palliative care that provides pain relief and emotional support for dying patients. Still other forms of medical care serve non-curative purposes, such as determining the status of a patient (prognosis), certifying health status and performing exclusion tests to screen for diseases that may not be visible or manifest in symptomatic patients. Such medical services are often referred to as paracurative.

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