The Pros and Cons of Common Hospital Drugs

Medications are among the most common forms of treatment for a wide array of injuries and illnesses. There are very few conditions that cannot be improved with at least one type of medication. Sometimes the medication is the entire cure for the condition. Other times the drug is used in concert with other treatments like physical therapy, and still others, the medication simply reduces discomfort while healing takes place.

Although there are thousands of prescription and over-the-counter medications available, there are some prominent drugs and categories of drugs that are seen most frequently, particularly in hospitals. Each has its own therapeutic benefits and, not surprisingly, each carries its own potential complications.

Pain Medications: Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Opioids, and Others

Pain is a common reason we seek medical care. We don’t like to be in pain, and modern medicine provides a wide array of options for staving off discomfort. Pain relievers fall on a spectrum of purpose from minor discomfort to the severe pain found in patients with terminal illnesses and traumatic injuries.

Proper dosing of pain relievers can be very beneficial. It can enable us to perform the regular functions of our daily lives without suffering. It can help us endure the prolonged healing process from injuries and surgery. It can even bring us comfort to let us enjoy our final days of life.

Like other medications, pain relievers have their drawbacks. Masking pain is great until you think about the possibility of aggravating an injury because you didn’t detect the damage being done. Many painkillers are addictive, taking users into a destructive cycle of abuse that leads to or other interventions.

Antibiotics: Cephalexin, Amoxicillin, and Others

Perhaps nothing sends us to the doctor more frequently than simply being sick. We develop a sore throat and fever and end up seeking care to clear up these infections and get us feeling better. Antibiotics go into the bloodstream and attack the bacteria that are causing our symptoms, reducing their population and letting our immune systems get back in control.

But it isn’t just a sick day that antibiotics are good for. Many patients in hospitals receive antibiotics to treat infections or potential infections from cuts, punctures, burns, and even surgical treatment. The , so when these situations create an opening in the skin, antibiotics can help pick up the slack.

Prior to the development of antibiotics, we had few options for fighting infections. That innovation alone is hugely important in medicine. But there can be problems with antibiotic use. Some patients are allergic to certain antibiotics, potentially fatally so. Additionally, many pathogens have developed an immunity to the most common antibiotics. Both of these complications can be managed, but it requires an educated patient and a diligent caregiver.

Steroids: Prednisolone, Cortisone, and Related Drugs

One of the greatest enemies of our bodies is one that it creates on its own. Swelling and inflammation serve a biological purpose by helping to protect injured or diseased tissue. Yet the swelling can be so severe that it creates pain or further damage. Other times, such as in anaphylaxis, it is swelling that should not be taking place and can actually be fatal itself.

Steroids are a common category of anti-inflammatory drugs. Products like prednisolone help the body eliminate swelling caused by everything from bronchitis to poison ivy, so they are often administered in hospitals.

While they are very effective at treating these conditions, steroids do have their downside. They can cause excessive appetite, weight gain, water retention, and even acne, none of which are dangerous but any of which can complicate other symptoms. Cortisone can increase blood sugar levels, which eliminates it as an option for diabetic patients. And in plain language, sometimes steroids just make you feel bad.

Medications are an important part of the healing process for any hospitalized patient. While they each carry their own potential problems, any can have a role for patients in the appropriate situation.

 

Image courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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