In medicine, a contraindication is a condition or factor that serves as a reason to withhold a certain medical treatment. Contraindication is the opposite of indication, which is a reason to use a certain treatment.
A contraindication is a specific situation in which a drug, procedure, or surgery should not be used because it may be harmful to the patient.
There are two types of contraindications:
- Relative contraindication means that caution should be used when two drugs or procedures are used together. It is acceptable to do so if the benefits outweigh the risk.
- Absolute contraindication means that event or substance could cause a life-threatening situation. A procedure or medication that falls under this category should be avoided.
Some contraindications are absolute, meaning that there are no reasonable circumstances for undertaking a course of action. For example, children and teenagers with viral infections should not be given aspirin because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, and a person with an anaphylactic food allergy should never eat the food to which they are allergic. Similarly, a person with hemochromatosis should not be administered iron preparations.
Other contraindications are relative, meaning that the patient is at higher risk of complications, but these risks may be outweighed by other considerations or mitigated by other measures. For example, a pregnant woman should normally avoid getting X-rays, but the risk may be outweighed by the benefit of diagnosing (and then treating) a serious condition such as tuberculosis. Relative contraindications may also be referred to as cautions, such as in the British National Formulary.
- "Contraindication - Medical Definition and More from Merriam-Webster". Retrieved 14 December 2010.
- Raymond S. Sinatra, Jonathan S. Jahr, J. Michael Watkins-Pitchford (2011). The Essence of Analgesia and Analgesics. Cambridge University Press. p. 253. ISBN 0-521-14450-7.
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