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how drugs work in your body

Drugs work in your body in a variety of ways. They can interfere with microorganisms (germs) that invade your body, destroy abnormal cells that cause cancer, replace deficient substances (such as hormones or vitamins), or change the way that cells work in your body.

There are more than 8,000 medications available either by prescription or over-the-counter. Some can be used to treat several different health conditions.

Aspirin, for example, can be used to treat pain, inflammation, and fever. In addition, aspirin can prevent heart attacks if taken on a regular basis.

The following information is a basic overview of how some drugs work to improve your health.

An infection occurs when microorganisms, such as bacteria or viruses, invade your body. Medications used to treat infections can kill germs directly or prevent them from multiplying and growing.

Some medications used to treat infections include:

Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanic acid), used to treat ear infections
Bactrim (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole), used to treat urinary tract infections
Lamisil (terbinafine), used to treat ringworm
Pen-Vee K (penicillin), used to treat strep throat
Valtrex (valacyclovir), used to treat herpes infections

There are three types of medications used to treat cancer. Chemotherapy attacks cancer cells directly and stops or slows their growth and spread.

Biological therapy helps your body’s immune system fight cancer. Lastly, antiangiogenic therapy blocks the growth of new blood vessels to a tumor, which may cut off a tumor’s supply of oxygen and nutrients. Some cancers are treated with a combination of these medications.

Some medications used to treat cancer are:

Adriamycin (doxorubicin), a chemotherapy agent used to treat a number of cancers, including bone, breast, stomach, lung, bladder, leukemia and lymphoma
Avastin (bevacizumab), an antiangiogenic therapy used to treat cancers of the colon, rectum, or lung
Intron-A (interferon alpha), a biological therapy used to treat malignant melanoma
Herceptin (trastuzumab), a biological therapy used to treat breast cancer
Platinol (cisplatin), a chemotherapy agent used to treat many types of cancer including bladder, lung, and head and neck