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Maintenance therapy is medical treatment used to ensure that health is maintained. When a patient begins to get better, the illness is referred to as in remission. During this time, maintenance therapies are used to keep the disease in remission. If symptoms start to recur, this type of therapy can help keep them at bay and ensure that the patient gets well.
Maintenance therapy can work well for chronic inflammatory illnesses such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Medication alone is often enough to cure these diseases temporarily, but this does not prevent future attacks. A lifetime supply of medication would have to be taken to ensure that these illnesses are staved off for good. Instead, a few different maintenance therapies can be used more effectively.
Drugs known as 5-ASA agents, sulfa-free agents such as Asacol®, Dipentum®, Pentasa® and Rowasa®, can prevent the symptoms of chronic inflammatory diseases and allow the patient to remain in remission, which is the goal. Another option is antibiotics, which can be taken in conjunction with the agents as maintenance therapy. Steroids may be used when the 5-ASA agents prove to be ineffective, but they do not always prevent recurring symptoms, and side effects can include high blood pressure and blood sugar. 6-MP and Azathioprine® are two drugs that maintain remission successfully, but they can decrease blood cell count. Infliximab® is a single-dose drug that lasts a long time and works as a long-term maintenance therapy.
Periodontal maintenance therapy may be necessary when a patient is experiencing periodontal disease, which can turn into a long-term problem if not properly treated. This maintenance includes two to four visits per year to the dentist or periodontist, during which a periodontal examination, an oral hygiene evaluation, proper brushing, flossing and cleaning technique instruction and tooth sensitivity treatment occur. Follow-up care should prevent periodontal disease from returning, and for those who practice this maintenance therapy, the disease will be less severe if it returns at all.
Other types of maintenance therapy include maintenance chemotherapy for cancer patients and maintenance physical therapy for patients who have sustained an injury in which a body part’s functions have been restricted or cut off entirely. Therapy comes in different forms, depending on the illness or injury. Sometimes drugs are the preferred choice, while other times a fluid maintenance therapy will work best. Natural rehabilitation therapy can also be an option for accident or stroke victims. The best types of maintenance therapies vary from patient to patient.