03.02 Pharmacology Terminology

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In this lesson we're going to take a look at the medical terms used in Pharmacology .

A lot of this lesson is going to be focused on pharmacology in general, but also in how you should look at different drugs, classes, and even the ways that we give drugs. The first thing we want to look at are the drug names. Every drug name has a long chemical name and it's long and complicated and it's not used very often. Most drugs, especially those given in the hospital prescribed by their generic name. It's usually shorter, and less complicated. The other thing to remember about generic names is that they have a suffixes which help you to identify drugs that are in certain classes. Brand names are a little bit more complicated in that their trademark and private property. They also have a patent that's good for 17 years. Sometimes their names are easy to remember, and sometimes they're not. This is why we typically use generic names to describe most of the drugs that are given in the hospital.

So the next thing that we want to look at are the different routes that drugs are given. If we start with the parenteral drugs, these are drugs that are given inside the body, by different means other than GI tract. So these are routes like intradermal, intramuscular, intrathecal, intravenous, or subcutaneous. Intra means through, and then the second part of these medical terms are specific to the different ways that they are given. Intramuscular injections are given into the muscle, intravenous injections are given in the vein, and subcutaneous injections are given underneath the skin.

Looking at topical drugs, these are lotions, creams, and ointments, and inhalant drugs are aerosol drugs that are literally inhaled. Moving on to oral drugs, these are going to be drugs that are taken by mouth, or can be given in an NG tube, but these orders have to be very specific. The types of drugs that  are given orally are tablets, caplets, capsules, and then another type of medication called a sublingual tablet. Sublingual literally means underneath the tongue, so these are medications that sit underneath the tongue and are absorbed to the mucous membranes in the mouth. These drugs are not meant to be swallowed. And finally we have suppositories which were given rectally.

Now let's look at the different types of drug classes.

Analgesics are pain medications. The word analgesia means without pain, so these drugs are given literally to control pain. These are opiates, and NSAIDs, which stand for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Anesthetics are drugs that deal with sensation. Anesthetic means without nervous sensation, so these are drugs that focus on removing sensation. So these are going to be things like spinal blocks, or different types of numbing agents.

Now antibiotics and antivirals mean against bacteria, or against viruses. The thing we want to look at with antibiotics is that they can't kill viruses, and the antibiotics are classified into two categories. They are either bacteriostatic, or they are bactericidal. Let's take a look at the statics. Static means to stop, whereas cidal means to kill. So drugs that are bacteriostatic mean that they stop the growth of bacteria, whereas bactericidal drugs focus on killing the bacteria.

Now another type of drug class that you want to pay attention to are anti-coagulants. So anticoagulants me against coagulation, so they are designed to prevent coagulation. These are going to be your drugs like Heparin or Coumadin.

Now this light is all about cardiovascular drugs, because they're really important to your patient, you're going to give a ton of them, and  we've outlined an easy way to remember these.

You should look at cardiovascular drugs in two main ways. First look at them as what they do to the blood vessels, and then look at them in terms of what they do to the heart. Antihypertensive drugs are drugs that focus on relaxing the systemic blood vessels. These are broken up into pretty much for categories. Angiotensin receptor blockers, or known as arbs, and they often end in the suffix -a r t a n. ACE inhibitors, are also anti hypertensive drugs, but they end in -p r i l. Beta blockers are another drug that focuses on the blood vessels, and end in -o LOL. One thing to remember about beta blockers is it they also slow the heart rate down, so just be mindful of that. And finally there are calcium channel blockers and these guys and in Pine. Now again just remember these are focused on the generic names of these drugs.

Now heart drugs can be classified into several different types, with antiarrhythmics, diuretics, and cholesterol lowering drugs being the most common that you're going to see. This is not a comprehensive list, so be aware of other types of drugs that you may run into. Anti-arrhythmic are those drugs that are against arrhythmias. So if your patient is maybe uncontrolled afib, they may be on in anti-arrhythmic. The diuretics are drugs that are designed to diurese or kick out fluid from the body. These are drugs like Lasix or spironolactone. And finally cholesterol-lowering drugs are also known as statins. They help to reduce the amount of cholesterol and all the blood vessels.

And finally we want to wrap this up with drugs focused on the endocrine system, respiratory system, GI system, and sedatives.

There are lots of drugs in these categories, so these are just the most common ones. For the endocrine system, steroids, insulin, and hormones are really common drugs used for these patients. Steroids have a tendency to end in the suffix sone, whereas hormones and typically in the suffix osterone. There are lots of different types of insulin, so make sure you check out our lessons on diabetes and insulin for more information on those.

Respiratory drugs focus on a couple of different mechanisms for treatment. Bronchodilators are those drugs that will dilate or enlarge the bronchi or the main parts of the airway for the lung. Leukotriene modifiers are a little bit different, but these are interesting drugs in that they can help patients with asthma. This is going to be a drug like Singulair.Steroids are also used in respiratory illnesses to help combat any information that  a patient may have.

Now GI drugs are broken up into several different categories. Antacids, antiemetics, anti-ulcer, and anti-diarrheal. Antacid drugs focus on reducing the amount of acid in the stomach, so this is things like calcium carbonate or Tums. Antiemetics focus on preventing nausea or vomiting, whereas anti-ulcer drugs  are typically in one of two categories. They are either a PPI, which is a proton pump inhibitor, and ends in azole, or they are H2 blockers and they ended i d i n e. An example of this would be Ranitidine or famotidine, commonly known as Pepcid. Antidiarrheals are used to treat diarrhea.

There's a lot of different types of sedatives, but the most common class that you'll run into are the benzodiazepines. These typically end in olam. Examples of these are alprazolam, diazepam, or lorazepam.

So let's recap. In Pharmacology, the drug names focus on the chemical name, the generic name, or the brand name of the drug. There are lots of different routes that drugs can be given, and these are either oral, parenteral, so these are examples like Iv, Im, intrathecal, or Sub-Q, or they can be inhaled. Finally drug classes focus on the organ systems that they're targeting.

That's it for our lesson on pharmacology medical terminology. Make sure you check out all the resources attached to this lesson. Now, go out to be our best selves today, and as always, happy nursing!

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