We are all aware of what antibiotics are or atleast have heard our doctors prescribing it to us or someone. But very few of us know exactly what it actually is .Antibiotics are powerful medicines used to treat diseases caused by bacteria and other microorganisms.
Our immune system is capable of killing and providing immunity to many diseases, but there are certain times when our immune system weakens and body is not able to produce enough antibodies to kill the infectious microorganisms. The Antibiotics are provided externally to accelerate the healing as they kill the bacterias and prevent further spread of the infection.
The first antibiotic was penicillin which was discovered by Alexander Fleming. Since then, the antibiotics have also been further developed to fit our needs, today there are plethora of both broad-spectrum and specific antibiotics to cater to almost all of our medical needs.
How do antibiotics work?
Although there are a number of different types of antibiotic, they all work in one of two ways:
- A bactericidal antibiotic (penicillin, for instance) kills the bacteria; these drugs usually interfere with either the formation of the bacterium’s cell wall or its cell contents
- A bacteriostatic, which stops bacteria from multiplying
What are antibiotics used for?
An antibiotic is given for the treatment of an infection caused by bacteria and other microorganisms. It is not effective against viruses. If you have an infection, it is important to know whether it is caused by bacteria or a virus.
If antibiotics are overused or used incorrectly, there is a risk that the bacteria will become resistant – the antibiotic becomes less effective against that type of bacterium.
A broad-spectrum antibiotic can be used to treat a wide range of infections. A narrow-spectrum antibiotic is only effective against a few types of bacteria. Some antibiotics attack aerobic bacteria, while others work against anaerobic bacteria.
In some cases, antibiotics may be given to prevent rather than treat an infection, as might be the case before surgery. This is called ‘prophylactic’ use of antibiotics. They are commonly used before bowel and orthopedic surgery.
Side effects of antibiotics
Below is a list of the most common side effects of antibiotics:
- Fungal infections of the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina
- Formation of kidney stones
- Abnormal blood clotting
- Blood disorders
Some patients, especially older adults, may experience inflamed bowels (a type of colitis), which can lead to severe bloody diarrhea. Although there are side effects of taking antibiotics, but these are very rare.
Some patients may develop an allergic reaction to antibiotics. Side effects might include a rash, swelling of the tongue and face, and difficulty breathing.
Anyone who has an allergic reaction to an antibiotic must tell their doctor and/or pharmacist. Antibiotics should be used with extreme caution for the following individuals:
- Anyone with reduced liver or kidney function
- Anyone who is pregnant
- Anyone who is breastfeeding
As we take antibiotics to treat the bacterial diseases the bacterias also subsequently develops immunity towards the antibiotic. And thus when we take the antibiotics, at times it has no effect on the bacteria causing illness. There is a concern worldwide that antibiotics are being overused, which would result in antibiotics becoming ineffective. The bacterial strains with multi antibiotic resistance are one of the biggest threats to the mankind and there spread is more because of our negligence. We should really check the consumption of the antibiotics, otherwise a day will come when no antibiotic will be effective. Antibiotics are a life savior but they should be taken in proper care and after proper advice of the doctor.