Prophylaxis (Greek "προφυλάσσω" "to guard or prevent beforehand") is any medical or public health procedure whose purpose is to prevent, rather than treat or cure a disease. Roughly, prophylactic measures are divided between "primary" prophylaxis (to prevent the development of a disease) and "secondary" prophylaxis (whereby the disease has already developed and the patient is protected against worsening of this process).

pecific examples

Influenza vaccines are prophylactic. [ [ How should influenza prophylaxis be implemented?] ]

Antibiotics are sometimes used prophylactically: For example, during the 2001 anthrax attacks scare in the United States, patients who were believed to be exposed were given ciprofloxacin. Similarly, the use of antibiotic ointments on burns and other wounds is prophylactic.

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) may, "with caution", be an example of a chronic migraine preventative (see Amitriptyline and migraines' prevention by medicine).

Antimalarials such as chloroquine are used both in treatment and as prophylaxis by visitors to countries where malaria is endemic to prevent the development of the parasitic "plasmodium" which cause malaria.

Condoms are sometimes referred to as "prophylactics" because of their use to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.

Low molecular weight heparin is used as a "prophylaxis" in hospital patients, as they are at risk for several forms of thrombosis due to their immobilisation.

Professional cleaning of the teeth is dental prophylaxis.

Daily and moderate physical exercise in various forms can be called prophylactic because it can maintain or improve one's health. Cycling for transport appears to very significantly improve health by reducing risk of heart diseases, various cancers, muscular- and skeletal diseases and overall mortality cite journal | author = Lars Bo Andersen et al. | title = All-cause mortality associated with physical activity during leisure time, work, sports, and cycling to work. | journal = Arch Intern Med. | year = 2000 | month = Jun | volume = 160 | issue = 11 | pages = 1621–8 | doi = 10.1001/archinte.160.11.1621 | pmid = 10847255 ] .

Prophylaxis may be administered as vaccine. Prophylactic vaccinesFact|date=December 2007 include: PEP, nPEP, PREP, or nPREP. PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis used in an occupational setting. nPEP is non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis. nPEP may be used in a recreational setting e.g. during intercourse if the condom breaks and one partner is HIV-positive, nPEP will help to decrease the probability of spread of infection of HIV. PREP is often used in occupational settings e.g. in hospital staff to prevent the spread of HIV or Hepatitis C from patient to staff. nPREP is a measure taken before exposure but in a non-occupational setting (non-occupational Pre-exposure prophylaxis) e.g. injection drug users may seek nPREP vaccinations.

See also

* Pre-exposure prophylaxis
* Post-exposure prophylaxis


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Prophylaxis — Proph y*lax is, n. [NL. See {Prophylactic}.] (Med.) The art of preserving from, or of preventing, disease; the observance of the rules necessary for the preservation of health; preservative or preventive treatment. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Prophylaxis — (Prophylăke, gr.), 1) die Verhütung einer Krankheit; 2) die Lehre über die hierzu anzuwendenden Mittel, also Diätetik im weitesten Sinne. Prophylaktisch, vorbeugend, verhütend, abwendend …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Prophylaxis — (griech.), die »Verhütung« von Krankheiten, ist von um so größerer Bedeutung, als sehr viele Krankheiten, wenn sie einmal den Menschen befallen haben, in ihrem Verlauf weder unterbrochen, noch durch ärztliche Kunst verkürzt werden können. Die… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Prophylaxis — Prophylaxis, griech., in der Heilkunde dasjenige Verfahren, welches zum Zweck hat, den Körper vor Erkrankung zu bewahren. Sie ist theils allgemein (die Sorge für gesunde Nahrung, gute Luft, öffentliche Reinlichkeit, Anordnungen gegen drohende… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • prophylaxis — index deterrence Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • prophylaxis — 1842, Mod.L., from Gk. pro (see PRO (Cf. pro )) + phylaxis “a watching, guarding” (see PROPHYLACTIC (Cf. prophylactic)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • prophylaxis — [prō΄fə lak′sis] n. pl. prophylaxes [prō΄fə lak′sēz΄] [ModL < PROPHYLACTIC, based on Gr phylaxis, a watching < phylax, guard] 1. the prevention of or protection from disease; prophylactic treatment 2. Dentistry a mechanical cleaning of… …   English World dictionary

  • Prophylaxis — A measure taken for the prevention of a disease. For example, dental prophylaxis consists of removing plaque and cleaning the teeth to prevent cavities and gum disease. The word prophylaxis is straight from the Greek and means an advance guard .… …   Medical dictionary

  • Prophylaxis — Pro|phy|lạ|xe, Pro|phy|lạ|xis, die; , …laxen <Pl. selten> [griech. prophýlaxis = Vorsicht, zu: prophylássein, ↑ prophylaktisch] (Med.): einer Erkrankung vorbeugende Maßnahme[n]; Vorbeugung: sich durch eine geeignete P. schützen; ein… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • prophylaxis — noun our dental insurance covers twice yearly prophylaxis Syn: preventive treatment, prevention, protection, precaution …   Thesaurus of popular words

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