Diseases, injuries, and mental conditions have been around for as long as humans have, maybe even longer. As these medical conditions evolve, humanity has had to adapt to them. Thankfully, medicine does not disappoint. On an almost-daily basis, major breakthroughs are made which allow us to stay one step ahead of diseases.

However, throughout history, some discoveries have made such significant impact that they’ve revolutionized the field of medicine. Here is a short list of some of them:

1. Anaesthetics: Before anaesthetics, surgeries were dreadful. The patients would have to be held down onto a table and made to bite a piece of wood or leather to stop them from screaming. Fortunately, Karl Koller isolated cocaine, one of the earliest anaesthetics, and found it to be a very effective numbing agent, making surgeries a lot easier and quieter.

2. Vaccines: They say prevention is better than cure and vaccination is one preventive measure that has saved countless lives. The first recorded vaccine was against smallpox, which was a fearsome disease that had killed millions. Edward Jenner discovered the vaccine when he found that a milkmaid who had been exposed to cowpox was immune to the disease.

3. Penicillin: One evening in 1928, Alexander Fleming carelessly left his petri dish uncovered. What he saw the next morning – no bacteria were growing around a mold – led to a discovery that would change the course of medicine. Penicillin has since become a steadfast treatment against viruses and infections and is still widely used today.

4. X-ray: Also accidentally, Wilhelm Röntgen discovered the X-Ray when he noticed that his cathode ray tube was creating weird photos. When he used it on his wife’s hand, he produced an image of her bones and wedding ring but did not see her flesh. Since its formal discovery, followed by a Nobel Prize in 1901, X-Rays have been mainstays in hospitals.

5. Insulin: Before insulin, diabetes was a very dangerous, even fatal, disease. However, in 1921, researchers from the University of Toronto isolated a compound that would later become insulin. The following year, it was used on a 14-year-old boy. He lived an additional 13 years. Today, diabetics are able to live very normal lives because of insulin.

6. Birth Control: Contraception has helped modulate rapid population growth but has also gained much dissent largely from religious groups. Contrary to popular belief, contraception has long been part of human history – ancient Greeks used the plant Silphium but, due to its efficacy, they drove it to extinction.

Today, contraceptives like condoms help prevent the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases like AIDS and herpes.

These discoveries are but a few that have dramatically improve medical conditions. As diseases and conditions worsen and adapt to current treatment, the pursuit for better medication and medical advancements will never stop. MIMS