Pharmacotherapy is a treatment using drugs or other pharmacological agents. A similar notion of chemotherapy refers to the pharmacotherapy in oncology. Pharmacotherapy is a conservative (non-invasive) treatment.
Pharmacotherapy is also a subdivision of pharmacology, which studies the drug therapy.
There are following kinds of pharmacotherapy:
- Ethyotropic therapy (etc-Greek αἰτία — cause and τρόπος – direction) is the perfect kind of pharmacotherapy. This type of treatment is aimed at eliminating the causes of disease. Examples of causal FT is a treatment of infectious diseases with anti-microbial medication (benzylpenicillin in streptococcal pneumonia), the use of antidotes in the treatment of patients with poisonings due to toxic substances.
- Pathogenetic therapy is aimed at elimination or suppression of disease development. Most of the currently used drugs refers specifically to this group of drugs. Antihypertensives, heart glycosides, antiarrhythmic, antiphlogistic, and many other psychoactive drugs have a therapeutic effect by suppressing the mechanisms of the disease.
- Symptomatic therapy is aimed at eliminating or limiting certain manifestations of the disease. The symptomatic medicines include painkillers, not affecting the cause or mechanism for disease development. Antitussives is also a good example of symptomatic drugs. Sometimes these drugs may have a significant effect (removal of pain syndrome in myocardial infarction) on the duration of the primary disease process and at the same time play the role of the pathogenetic therapy.
- Substitution therapy is used with a deficit of natural nutrients. Substitution therapy includes treatment using enzyme preparations (pancreatin, panzinorm etc.), hormonal drugs (insulin for diabetes, tireoidin for myxoedema), preparations of vitamins (vitamin d, for example, when rickets). Drugs for substitution therapy, not eliminating the causes of the disease, can maintain the body’s normal existence for many years. Not coincidentally, such severe disease as diabetes is considered a particular way of life in the USA.
- Preventive therapy aims to prevent disease. It includes some preventive antiviral agents (for example, rimantadine), disinfectant drugs and a number of others. The use of isoniazid anti-TB drugs can also be considered a type of preventive therapy. A good example of preventive therapy is the use of vaccines.
Pharmacotherapy should be distinguished from chemotherapy. If FT is dealing with two members of the pathological process, namely, medication and a microorganism, the chemotherapy has already 3 parts: medicine, macro (the patient) and the causative agent. The drug deals with the cause of the disease (treatment with antibiotics; poisoning — specific antidotes, and so on.)
One of the types of ethyltropic therapy is substitution pharmacotherapy that replace with medications missing physiologically active substances (use of vitamins, hormonal preparations in case of insufficiency of the glands of internal secretion, etc.)
The doctor, when prescribing pharmacotherapy, must consider the available data on the ratio of benefit/harm for each drug, the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of the drug, as well as the individuality of the patient (see pharmacogenetics), possibility of drug dependence, the placebo and nocebo effects.
Medicines can have adverse effects on the body of the patient. Possible allergies, idiosyncrasy, causing various metabolism disorders and/or failure of the body systems, caused by medications idiosyncrasy (see Drug disease). Sometimes, in justified cases, the doctor is forced to use subtoxic or even toxic doses of substances (e.g., see Cytostatics).
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