Medication Grouping

Medicines are grouped according to the body part or system they affect (e.g. cardio vascular which treats conditions of the heart and blood vessels) or the type of illness, condition or disease they treat (such as anti-depressants or anti-inflammatory medicines)

The groups are as follows:

  • Antibiotics
  • Analgesics
  • Antihistamines
  • Antacids
  • Anticoagulants
  • Psychotropic medicines
  • Diuretics
  • Laxatives
  • Hormones
  • Cytotic medications


Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. Some will work by killing the bacteria others will prevent growth and reproduction.

Broad Spectrum Antibiotics

  • The term broad-spectrum antibiotic refers to an antibiotic that acts against a wide range of disease-causing bacteria
  • They are commonly used for prophylaxis after an operation, in order to prevent bacterial infections occurring
  • They are also used in the case of superinfections, where there are multiple types of bacteria causing illness

Two examples of broad spectrum antibiotics are Amoxicillin and Ampicillin.

Taking Antibiotics

  • All antibiotics will come with specific instructions, such as intervals to be taken (usually every 4/6/8/12 hours) as well as instructions such a before, during or after meals
  • If antibiotics are not taken as prescribed (full course, full amount or by administration guidelines) bacteria will continue to thrive, which can cause a continuation of symptoms associated with bacteria or resistance of the effectiveness of antibiotics in future.
  • Some possible side effects of taking antibiotics are nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea an skin rashes

Narrow Spectrum Antibiotics

  • Narrow-spectrum antibiotics are effective against specific families of bacteria
  • The narrow spectrum antibiotic will cause less resistance of the bacteria as it will deal with only specific bacteria.

Two examples of narrow spectrum antibiotics are Vancomycin and Teicoplanin.



  • Analgesics do not treat the cause of pain, however they provide temporary relief from pain symptoms
  • Some ease the pain at the site of injury
  • Some block the pain signals from the nerve ending to the brain
  • Mild pain – ibuprofen or paracetamol
  • Moderate/Severe pain – codeine, tramadol, diamorphine and fentanyl
  • Controlled analgesics are usually used postoperatively or in palliative care

Side effects: some strong pain killers such as morphine or codeine can cause nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion and constipation




  • Commonly used to treat allergies such as hay fever
  • These work by blocking the release of a protein called histamine
  • They can also be ingredients in other medications for conditions such as migraines, travel sickness, and sleep disturbance

Sedating Antihistamines

Affect the brain as well as the rest of the body, therefore can cause sleepiness. Examples: Promethazine, Chlorphenamine

Non-Sedating Antihistamines

Do not pass into the pain so easily, so they do not cause drowsiness. This also means that they do not relive symptoms associated with sickness. Examples: Cetirizine, Dedloratadine

Side effects: Drowsiness, dizziness, confusion and constipation



  • Antacids neutralise the acid content within the stomach because they contain aluminium, calcium, sodium salts or magnesium.
  • They are used to treat conditions such as indigestion and heartburn.
  • They can either coat the lining of the oesophagus to protect It from stomach acids, or produce a gel in the stomach which helps to prevent stomach acids from entering the oesophagus.
  • Antacids are readily available without prescription. Some commonly known brand names include Gaviscon, Rennies and Maalox.



  • Anticoagulants are use to reduce the bloods ability                   to clot.
  • Blood clotting is essential in the healing process however if someone is at risk of developing an internal blood clot, this could break free and travel in the circulatory system. The clot could block a major blood vessel and stop the flow of blood to vital organs such as the brain, lungs or heart, leading to life threatening conditions such as heart attacks, stroke, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
  • Examples of individuals at risk of blood clots: people with artificial heart valves, deep vein thrombosis, angina, atrial fibrillation, people who have had a heart attack or stroke or people who are post-operative.
  • However anticoagulants increase the risk of haemorrhaging therefore individuals must be closely monitored to ensure their blood levels are within normal range.
  • Warfarin and Heparin are the most common anti-coagulants. Aspirin is also used to prevent clotting however this works slightly differently and is known as an anti-platelet medication.

Possible Side effects: severe and uncontrolled bleeding






  • Hormones maintain the body’s natural balance; however some people can experience an imbalance when their body produces too much or too little of a hormone.
  • Insulin- Used to restore insulin levels in individuals who have diabetes
  • Hormone replacement therapy- used to restore oestrogen levels in women who are experiencing menopause
  • Levothyroxine- Used to restore thyroxine levels in individuals who have an under active thyroid



  • Cytotoxics are used in the treatment of cancer, by either killing or preventing he division of cancerous cells
  • Cytotoxics affect all cells which divide rapidly such as hair follicle cells and gastrointestinal tract cells


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