Health & Medicine

Medicine

Medicine (Latin medicus, “physician”), the science and art of diagnosing, treating, and preventing disease and injury. Its goals are to help people live longer, happier, more active lives with less suffering and disability. Medicine goes beyond the bedside of patients. Medical scientists engage in a constant search for new drugs, effective treatments, and more advanced technology. In addition, medicine is a business. It is part of the health care industry, one of the largest industries in the United States, and among the leading employers in most communities.

Disease has been one of humanity's greatest enemies. Only during the last 100 years has medicine developed weapons to fight disease effectively. Vaccines, better drugs and surgical procedures, new instruments, and understanding of sanitation and nutrition have had a huge impact on human well-being. Like detectives, physicians and other health care professionals use clues to identify, or diagnose, a specific disease or injury. They check the patient's medical history for past symptoms or diseases, perform a physical examination, and check the results of various tests. After making a diagnosis, physicians pick the best treatment. Some treatments cure a disease. Others are palliative—that is, they relieve symptoms but do not reverse the underlying disease. Sometimes no treatment is needed because the disease will get better by itself.

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