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Knowing The Enemy: The Rationale Behind Medical History

 Everybody get sick at least one in his life. This is a fact and can be taken as one of the unwritten rules of life that everyone, from the CEO of some globe-spanning multinational to the homeless bum at the corner begging for some spare change, has to abide by. Of course, when the average person gets sick, they normally consult a doctor for medical treatment. In some cases, doctors can get annoying when they drill people about their medical history, though people are only annoyed because they can't quite grasp the various reasons that doctors have for asking the “annoying question.” The truth is that doctors ask those questions for a variety of reasons, most of which are inevitably tied in to your health.

The first reason doctors ask about a person's medical history is to get a better idea of the background of the complaint. If a person complains about pain in the knee or lower back pain, the doctor's questions would be designed to inquire about previous injuries or medical conditions that might be the root cause of the pain. A person with a history of injuries to the back may think that his pain was caused by a torn muscle, but it might also be related to one of his old injuries being compromised or acting up. By giving the doctor a better idea of the circumstances that afflicted areas have been in before, he can get an idea of what the root of the problem is. That, in turn, gives him a better view of how best to go about fixing the problem.

Drug tolerance might also play a role in the questions doctors ask. The human body, is a remarkable little device. It is capable of adapting to nearly any situation you can think of, and some that you can't. When the body is exposed to a drug or substance that it hasn't encountered before, the medication is almost guaranteed to have an immediate effect. Depending on the chemical composition, the effect may last for the long-term or not. However, the more the body is exposed to that particular drug, the better able it is to resist what the drug does. Thus, drug tolerance builds in the body and, eventually, the drug in question becomes ineffective in the original doses and would require larger doses to have any appreciable effect. Doctors need to know if a drug has been prescribed several times before, to minimize the chances of giving a patient a prescription that is unlikely to actually work. They may also choose to use the same drug, but adjust the dose appropriately.

A person's medical history can also contain other bits of information that the doctor might need or find useful. For example, some drugs such as penicillin have been known to illicit allergic reactions out of people. While allergies can come and go with age, most doctors would prefer to use a drug that a patient has had no previous allergic reaction to. Also, family history can be useful for doctors in diagnosing the problem. Since some illnesses can be inherited, it would be best if a doctor was aware of a patient potentially carrying the risk of developing illnesses like diabetes. Finally, in the event that a surgery has to be conducted, having detailed records of a patient's previous surgical procedures would be useful for the surgeon, if only to avoid damaging what was repaired by the last surgeon.