Tech5 News : Medicines

Ben HarrisonTECH 5 for March 26, 2014

Good afternoon and welcome to another Tech 5 program and a five minute trip into the amazing world of technology. This is Ben Harrison.


This program is an overly simplistic explanation of medicines. It is kid friendly and you may want to download the text off the Ezee website and share it with your children. As kids, we resisted visits to the doctor’s office. The doctor would poke and prod and take your temperature and sometimes stick a needle in your arm. It usually wasn’t a fun experience and was often accompanied by feeling sick.

As a child, you’re sitting in the doctor’s office, feeling crummy and hardly able to swallow. You watch and listen as the doctor grabs a prescription pad and says to you or your parent, “The test came back, and she’s got strep throat. I’ve seen a lot of kids with it this week. Give her this medicine, make sure she finishes all of it, and she should be well enough to go back to school soon.” So you go home and start taking your medicine. Sure enough, you quickly get better.

But what was in the medicine? How did it work to make you better? And how did the doctor know to give you that medicine instead of one of thousands of others?

One medicine might be a pink liquid, another medicine might come in a special mist, another might be a blue pill, and still another might come out of a yellow tube. But they’re all used for the same purpose — to make you feel better when you’re sick.

Most medicines today are made in laboratories and many are based on substances found in nature. After a medicine is created, it is tested over and over in many different ways. Many new medicines actually are new versions of old medicines that have been improved to help people feel better quicker.

Sometimes a part of the body can’t make enough of a certain substance, and this can make a person sick. When someone has diabetes, the pancreas can’t make enough insulin, for the body to stay healthy.

If your body makes too much of a certain chemical, that also can make you sick. Medicines can replace what’s missing or they can block production of a chemical when the body is making too much of it.

When deciding which medicine to give a patient, a doctor thinks about what is causing the patient’s problem. Someone may need to take more than one type of medicine at the same time — one to fight off an infection and one to help the person feel better, for example.

When it comes to fighting illnesses, there are many types of medicines. Antibiotics kill   bacteria, and different antibiotics can fight different kinds of bacteria. So if your doctor found out that streptococcal bacteria were causing your sore throat, he or she could prescribe the right antibiotic.

You have taken other medicines that soothe symptoms if you’ve ever taken cold medicine to dry up your runny nose or sucked on throat drops for a scratchy throat. Cream that helps a bug bite stop itching is another example. Your cold had to go away on its own, just like the bug bite needed to heal on its own, but in the meantime, these medicines helped you feel less sick or itchy.

Many people also take medicines to control illnesses that don’t completely go away, such as diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure. With help from these medicines, people can enjoy life and avoid some of the worst symptoms associated with their illnesses.

Finally, there are important medicines that keep people from getting sick in the first place. Some of these are called immunizations and they are usually given as a shot. They prevent people from catching serious illnesses like measles and mumps. There is even an immunization that prevents chickenpox, and many people get a flu shot each winter to avoid the flu.

What does medicine mean to you? Do you picture a pill or a spoonful of purple liquid? Those are two ways medicine can be given, but there are others. Medicines are given in different ways, depending on how they work best in the body.

A lot of medicines are swallowed, either as a pill or a liquid. Once the medicine is swallowed, the digestive juices in the stomach break it down, and the medicine can pass into the bloodstream. Your blood then carries it to other parts of your body.

But some medicines wouldn’t work if the stomach’s digestive juices broke them down. For example, insulin is given as a shot under the skin and then it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Other medicines would take too long to work if they were swallowed. When you get an IV in the hospital the medicine gets into your blood quickly. Other medicines need to be breathed into the lungs where they work best for lung problems, like some of the medicines used to treat asthma.

Still others work best when they are put directly on the spot that needs the medicine — like patting ointment on an infected cut or dropping ear drops into a clogged-up ear.

Too much of a medicine can be harmful, and old or outdated medicines may not work or can make people sick. Taking the wrong medicine or medicine prescribed for someone else is also very bad news.

If your doctor says to take medicine for 10 days, take it for the whole time, even if you start to feel better sooner.

This is Ben Harrison from EEZEE Radio 91.1 AND 102.7 on your FM DIAL in St. Vincent and the Grenadines