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.
As a very simple 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.
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 like 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.