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In physiology, physiological tolerance or drug tolerance is commonly encountered in pharmacology, when a subject's reaction to a drug (such as an opiate painkiller, benzodiazepine or other psychotropic drug) decreases[1] so that larger doses are required to achieve the same effect. Drug tolerance can involve both psychological drug tolerance and physiological factors. Characteristics of drug tolerance: it is reversible, the rate depends on the particular drug, dosage and frequency of use, differential development occurs for different effects of the same drug. Physiological tolerance also occurs when an organism builds up a resistance to the effects of a substance after repeated exposure. This can occur with environmental substances, such as salt or pesticides.

Tachyphylaxis is a medical term referring to the rapid decrease in response to a drug after repeated doses over a short period of time.


There are two major mechanisms for tolerance:

  • Dispositional tolerance: occurs because of a decreased quantity of the substance reaching the site it affects.
  • Reduced responsiveness: the response to the substance is decreased by cellular mechanisms.[2]

See also


  1. ^ MeSH Drug+Tolerance
  2. ^ Klaassen, Curtis D. (2001-07-27). Casarett & Doull's Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill Professional. pp. 17. ISBN 0071347216.  

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