Determining Medicine Dosage Through Titration

What You Need to Know About Titration

doctor writing prescription for medication
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You might remember the term "titration" or "titrated" from high school chemistry, where it referred to adding one chemical to another, a little bit at a time, to get the two chemicals to provide a certain reaction.

For example: Say you want to create pink icing for a cupcake. You'll begin with white icing, and will add small amounts of red food coloring to that white icing until you get the pink you are hoping to get.

Figuring Out Medicine Dosage

Titration is used in a medical sense to figure out drug dosages in at least two ways:​

  • The goal might be to take as little of a drug as possible to get the desired effect, such as keeping your blood pressure or cholesterol in check. Your doctor might start you on a 20mg amount of a drug. If it doesn't have the desired outcome, she might increase it to 40mg, and so on, until you are taking the least amount that has the best effect.
  • Another goal might be to see how much of a drug your body can handle before the side effects outweigh the benefit of the drug, which is normally only done in the early stages of clinical trials. This type of titration is seen most with chemotherapy drugs. A trial participant is given progressively more of a drug over a period of time while the researchers test to see if it's killing the cancer cells it's supposed to be killing.

Common Medicines for which Titration is Used

Stimulant medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): When prescribed by a doctor he will usually start with an initial low dose of stimulant and carefully up the dose until an adequate level is reached that will best improve daily functions.

In this case, titration helps the body gradually adjust to the medicine and contributes to reduced side-effects to the medication.

Titration in Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are experiments designed and executed by researchers, called investigators, to test new drugs, therapies and devices on human participants before they are submitted for approval to the FDA or marketed and sold for use by general patient populations.

Before they are conducted with humans, they are tested on laboratory animals like mice or rats. When they seem to improve either the diagnostic process or the status of the animals' health and are deemed to be safe for those animals, then the testing moves to humans through the development of clinical trials.

If you are considering participation in a clinical trial, there are a number of steps you'll want to take to be sure you will benefit from the trial, and the clinical trial will benefit from your

Learn more about clinical trials to better understand how titration might apply.

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