Cure usually refers to a complete restoration of health, while treatment refers to a process that leads to an improvement in health, but may not include the complete elimination of disease.
Cure comes from the Latin word for “to care,” while treatment is rooted in the Latin meaning “to deal with” and was used in a variety of ways before being applied to medicine.
Both words originally came from the same word – isn’t that curious?
The Latin noun ‘cura’, meaning ‘care’, became the verb ‘curare’, meaning ‘take care of’ and then the Old French ‘curer’, meaning ‘cure’.
The original sense of the word was ‘care, concern, responsibility’, particularly in a spiritual sense, but in late Middle English the meanings ‘medical care’ and ‘successful medical treatment’ arose, and hence ‘remedy’.
Interestingly, curare is also a type of substance which can be harmful or toxic, as are many medical treatments, when not used according to directions (and sometimes even when they are!).
Modern medicines are powerful, and sometimes a helpful treatment can become a harmful or toxic especially if the risks is too high, illness is very complex, muntiple problem are being dealt in the same time.
Paracetamol is a great painkiller, but it can also kill liver cells, if taken in excess. Chemotherapy drugs are designed to kill cancer cells, but they can normal cells as well, hence their side effects.
So how has the meaning of the words ‘care’ and ‘cure’ changed, and why?
In ancient times, medicine offered true care. We knew that connection with people mattered, that what we ate affected us, and that there was a true and simple way to live. Illness and disease were seen as a reflection of the way we were living, and an opportunity to make true change.
As we became more scientific, and developed herbs, pills and potions, and skills and techniques – like anaesthetics and surgery – we became taken with the idea that we could fix ailments, cut lumps out, and completely cure.
Healthcare providers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic absolutely have to be functioning well in order to do their jobs well. At such a stressful time, with so much change and uncertainty, combined with the pressures of patient care during this pandemic, it almost seems like too much.
So care for each other’s health & well being while you are curing so many.
Be safe, look after your team’s & families
Wish you a speedy recovery and good health.
Dr.Shailesh JhawarFRCA, CCST(UK)
Apex hospitals, Jaipur