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Medicine

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

Medicine is the science and practice of the diagnosis, 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 existed for thousands of years, 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. For 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, treatments outside the bounds of safety and efficacy are termed quackery. Read more...

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The 1918 flu pandemic was an influenza pandemic between 1918 and 1920 caused by an unusually severe and deadly strain of the subtype H1N1 of the species Influenza A virus. By far the most destructive influenza pandemic in history, it killed some 50 million to 100 million people worldwide (2.5 – 5% of the human population) in just 18 months, dwarfing the simultaneous bloodshed due to World War I. Furthermore, many of its victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly, or otherwise weakened patients.

Despite not having originated in Spain, the Allies of World War I came to call it the Spanish Flu. This was mainly because the pandemic received greater press attention in Spain than in the rest of the world, as Spain was not involved in the war and had not imposed wartime censorship. (More...)

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3D VR of a CT scan.

Photo credit: Original uploader was KieranMaher at en.wikibooks

Did you know...?

  • ... that the polymeal is a diet-based approach to combating heart disease, proposed in December 2004 by Oscar Franco?
  • ... that a mammotome is a device that uses a computer-guided probe to perform breast biopsies, and that it can be conducted on an outpatient basis under local anaesthetic?

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