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the treatment of the manifestations, or symptoms, of a disease without curative action being taken with respect to the disease’s basic cause and developmental mechanisms. (Etiotrophic treatment is directed toward the cause of a disease, and pathogenetic treatment is directed toward the development of a disease.)
Expectant treatment relieves suffering by eliminating the pain accompanying neuralgias and traumas, the exhausting cough with pleural disease, and vomiting with myocardial infarction. It is often used in emergencies before an accurate diagnosis has been made; for example, the infusion of blood or blood substitutes is administered with acute anemia and artificial respiration and cardiac massage are used in cases of clinical death. The elimination of a symptom is sometimes contraindicated; for example, the administration of an analgesic to relieve acute abdomen makes subsequent diagnosis difficult.