Pharmacotherapeutics is the use of drugs to treat disease. When choosing a drug to treat a particular condition, health care providers consider not only the drug’s effectiveness but also other factors such as the type of therapy the patient will receive.
The type of therapy a patient receives depends on the severity, ur-gency, and prognosis of the patient’s condition and can include:
· acute therapy, if the patient is critically ill and requires acute in-tensive therapy
· empiric therapy, based on practical experience rather than onpure scientific data
· maintenance therapy, for patients with chronic conditions thatdon’t resolve
· supplemental or replacement therapy, to replenish or substi-tute for missing substances in the body
· supportive therapy, which doesn’t treat the cause of the diseasebut maintains other threatened body systems until the patient’s condition resolves
· palliative therapy, used for end-stage or terminal diseases tomake the patient as comfortable as possible.
A patient’s overall health as well as other individual factors can al-ter that patient’s response to a drug. Coinciding medical condi-tions and personal lifestyle characteristics must be considered when selecting drug therapy. (See Factors affecting a patient’s re-sponse to a drug.)
In addition, it’s important to remember that certain drugs have a tendency to create drug tolerance and drug dependence in pa-tients. Drug tolerance occurs when a patient develops a decreased response to a drug over time. The patient then requires larger dos-es to produce the same response.
Tolerance differs from drug dependence, in which a patient dis-plays a physical or psychological need for the drug. Physical de-pendence produces withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped, whereas psychological dependence is based on a desire to continue taking the drug to relieve tension and avoid discom-fort.