Health medicine is the art and science of healing. It involves a variety of practices designed to maintain heath, restore well-being, treat illness or prevent illness. General medicine has a history dating back as far as ancient Egypt.
Medicine General: Ancient Egypt
Like many ancient civilizations, early Egyptians explained a lot of events in their lives with myths and legends. But unlike some ancient civilizations, the Egyptians also had an advanced knowledge of the human anatomy. Many civilizations thought health problems and concerns could be treated only by medicine men and magicians with special connection to the deities. Ancient Egyptians did not follow this belief and referred the treatment of illness to doctors.
Hieroglyphics found during Egyptian archaeological digs prove there were men who acted as physicians as early as 1500 BC. Ancient papyrus documents from around that era show that early Egyptians had knowledge of organs like the spleen, heart, lungs and anus. They also had knowledge of blood vessels and how they carried blood from the heart to other areas of the body. Archeologists believe that ancient Egyptians had such an advanced knowledge of the workings of the human body because of their practice of embalming dead bodies.
The Beginnings of Modern General Medicine
The Greek physician Hippocrates is often considered to be the father of modern medicine even though he was born well before the birth of Christ and did most of his work around 430 BC. Today newly qualified doctors must take what is called the Hippocratic Oath where they promise to do no bad to their patients. Hippocrates was not the only Greek doctor who analyzed poor health and disease, but he is the most famous possibly partly due to extensive writings by Plato and Aristotle about the man. Hippocrates was the founder of what is now known as "clinical observation" where doctors watch specific symptoms of an illness from day to day.
A Regression in Medical Knowledge
By the Middle Ages it seems that medical knowledge came to a standstill. Blood letting was a common treatment for many diseases since the thought that a variety of diseases were caused by too much blood in the body. Blood letting was sometimes used in childbirth history as a way to treat labor pain if a physician became involved in the birthing process. At this time in history very few doctors were involved in labor and delivery. Blood letting involved either cutting a vein and draining the blood or using a leech for smaller amounts of blood letting.
Post-war Medical Progress
Surgery in general was common during World War I and other wars where amputation of limbs was the only way to save a soldier's life or ward off gangrene. But after the First World War medical advancements led to more selective surgeries. For example, the invention of medical x-ray machines could tell how severe a break was and whether or not amputation was necessary.
Pregnancy and childbirth became even more managed where the general attitude was that women shouldn't have to suffer the pain of labor. Women were routinely drugged to a point of semi-consciousness and gave birth with the help of forceps and an episiotomy without having any memory of the procedure.
After 1945 more advances in the management of pregnancy and childbirth were discovered including the ability to induce labor and use epidurals. At the same time, the return to a more natural type of childbirth was developed. Survival rate of premature babies started to increase due to advancements in medical technology from this time period until today.
Today those who would like to become doctors can study medicine in general and become general medical practitioners. Or they can choose to continue their education and specialize in a certain area like pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology or emergency medicine. Subspecialties are also a study option. Examples of subspecialties are forensic medicine, wilderness medicine, disaster medicine or diving medicine.
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