When you take a step back, some people find it far too easy to complain about the state of modern medicine. Sure, cuts to the healthcare sector happen more than anyone would like, and some healthcare staff are less than polite when dealing with patients. However, when we focus on the bad, it can be all too easy to forget about the incredible advances that have happened over time. Here, I’ve listed some of the most prevalent and important advances of modern medicine.

First of all, inhalers. Thanks to these little devices, countless people with asthma and other respiratory issues have been able to actually muster the lung capacity to say “thank you, doctor”. Inhalers of countless different brands open people’s airways every day, all over the world. Before this, asthmatics and people suffering from breathing difficulties had to rely on more primitive methods, and many lives were lost due to the lack of effective medication. While there’s no standardized study which has proven this, it’s generally accepted that people who can breathe properly are happier healthier than they would be otherwise!

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Next, automobiles and aircraft. Sure, these aren’t strictly medical tools, but their influence on the world of healthcare is undeniable. When someone’s been involved in an accident, or suffered from a sudden bout of serious illness, mere seconds can mean the difference between life and death. Over history, millions of lives have been lost due to people not being able to reach a medical facility, or a doctor not being able to reach them in time. One of the biggest leaps forward from this dark age was the use of horse-drawn ambulances, and later motorised ones. Today, air ambulance services are able to reach people stranded in the middle of nowhere, who would have been close to helpless without the advent of aircraft. Governments and private medical institutions are constantly working to make ambulances and doctor’s vehicles faster and more reliable, meaning that more and more people are pulling through medical emergencies as time goes on.

Finally, anaesthetics and pain medication. If you ever feel like terrifying yourself, read up on Victorian surgical techniques. It’s hard to believe with all the modern medication we have now, but there was a time when you’d have to be completely conscious through surgery, amputations, and all kinds of other painful procedures. To make things even more nightmarish, you might have an auditorium full of medical students staring down at you! If you were lucky, you’d be able to get drunk on ether, or be given a bit to dig your teeth into. Aside from that though, surgery with no painkillers or anaesthesia was a part of life for countless patients from the 19th century backwards. From childbirth to minor procedures like ingrown toenails, anaesthetics and pain medication are a cornerstone of modern medicine. Many procedures, such as hip repairs, open heart surgery and appendectomies aren’t even possible without our access to anaesthesia!

There you have just a tiny part of the advances that have made modern medicine what it is today. Think about them the next time you feel like complaining about your doctor!