Portal:Medicine
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Portal:Medicine

The Medicine Portal

Marble statue of Asclephius on a pedestal, symbol of medicine in Western medicine

Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.

Medicine has been practiced since prehistoric times, during most of which it was an art (an area of skill and knowledge) frequently having connections to the religious and philosophical beliefs of local culture. For example, a medicine man would apply herbs and say prayers for healing, or an ancient philosopher and physician would apply bloodletting according to the theories of humorism. In recent centuries, since the advent of modern science, most medicine has become a combination of art and science (both basic and applied, under the umbrella of medical science). While stitching technique for sutures is an art learned through practice, the knowledge of what happens at the cellular and molecular level in the tissues being stitched arises through science.

Prescientific forms of medicine are now known as traditional medicine and folk medicine. They remain commonly used with, or instead of, scientific medicine and are thus called alternative medicine. As an example, evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture is "variable and inconsistent" for any condition, but is generally safe when done by an appropriately trained practitioner. In contrast, alternative treatments outside the bounds not just of scientific medicine, but also outside the bounds of safety and efficacy are termed quackery. This can encompass an array of practices and practitioners, irrespective of whether they are prescientific (traditional medicine and folk medicine) or modern pseudo-scientific, including chiropractic which rejects modern scientific germ theory of disease (instead believing without evidence that human diseases are caused by invisible subluxation of the bones, predominantly of the spine and less so of other bones), with just over half of chiropractors also rejecting the science of immunization. Read more...

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smallpox

Smallpox is an acute infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants named Variola major and Variola minor. Also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera; a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning spotted, or varus, meaning "pimple". The term "smallpox" was first used in Europe in the 15th century to distinguish variola from the great pox (syphilis).

Smallpox localizes in small blood vessels of the skin and in the mouth and throat. In the skin, this results in the characteristic maculopapular rash, which evolves into raised vesicles, then into fluid-filled pustules. V. major produces a more serious disease and has an overall mortality rate of 30-35%. V. minor (also known as alastrim, cottonpox, milkpox, whitepox, and Cuban itch) causes a milder form of disease which kills ~1% of its victims.

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Cystoscopy-im-20050425.jpg
Images from a cystoscopy. The top two images show the interior of a bladder. The top left image shows the bladder wall, the top right shows the cystoscope passing into the bladder from the urethra. The bottom two images show an inflamed urethra.

Photo credit: Cystoscopy carried out on Michael Reeve (29-year-old male), 25 April, 2005, at the North London Nuffield Hospital

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  • ...the brain itself is not sensitive to pain, because it lacks pain-sensitive nerve fibers? Several areas of the head can hurt, including a network of nerves which extends over the scalp and certain nerves in the face, mouth, and throat.
  • ...that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may sometimes have an acute onset and develop after an infectious illness, and that this "Post infectious IBS" (IBS-PI) is drawing much clinical investigation?

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