Antibiotic medicines are used to control infections. Antibiotics kill bacteria, viruses and protozoa in order to control infection. Bacteria are little organisms that cause diseases to humans and animals. Some of the illnesses caused by bacteria are TB, salmonella, syphilis and some forms of meningitis. Some bacteria are good for us while some are harmful. There are many kinds of antibiotics available and they all control infection but the type of antibiotic you need must be recommended by your doctor depending on the kind of infection you have and he will prescribe the right choice of antibiotic for you.
How do antibiotics work in the body?
Though there are different types of antibiotics, they all work in one of the two ways mentioned below:
- A bacteriostatic attacks the bacteria and stops it from multiplying
- Penicillin is a bactericidal which is an antibiotic and kills the bacteria. It usually stops the formation of the bacterium’s cell contents.
Why do we take antibiotics?
Antibiotics are taken to treat an infection that is caused by bacteria. They attack bacteria alone and not other infections like fungi or virus. So it is important to know before you take antibiotic if you cause of illness is indeed bacteria. Ailments like common cold and sore throats are usually caused by viruses so antibiotics do not work against them.
Antibiotics should not be overused or misused or there is a chance that the bacteria will become resistant and less effective against the kind of bacterium. A broad spectrum antibiotic may be tried to treat many kinds of infections while a narrow spectrum antibiotic can only treat a limited kind of bacteria. Some antibiotics attack the aerobic bacteria while some attack the anaerobic bacteria. The aerobic bacteria need oxygen which the anaerobic does not. Antibiotics can also be taken in advance to stop the infection as before surgeries. This is known as the ‘prophylactic’ use of antibiotics. This is also the norm before bowel and orthopedic operations.
Common side effects of antibiotics:
- Feeling sick
- Fungal infection in the mouth, vagina and digestive tract.
Some rare side effects of antibiotics
- Formation of kidney stones
- Blood clotting
- Sensitivity towards the sun
- Blood disorders
Some people may develop allergic reactions to antibiotics. They may develop a rash, swelling of the face, lips or tongue or have difficulty in breathing. You must tell your doctor as soon as you feel any allergic reactions. Sometimes reactions can be more serious too or fatal. They are known as anaphylactic reactions.
You should avoid antibiotics if:
- You are pregnant
- You are breastfeeding
- You have kidney or liver disorder
Misuse of antibiotics
Sometimes people might use it without any reason or even if they don’t require it. This makes bacteria resistant to that type of antibiotic and if serious problems happen it can be fatal. Antibiotics should not be consumed without the doctor’s recommendation even if it is available over the counter.
Antibiotics misuse damage goes beyond the damage caused by the drug only. People damage the essential bacteria that are required by the body like aiding in digestion etc. Very strong antibiotics are mostly prescribed for the hospital patients and serious infections such as an extreme stage of pneumonia. It is only at times like this that a bigger dose of antibiotic may be prescribed.
Antibiotics are effective as well as strong medicines that should be taken only in consultation to your doctor. There are too many to choose from hence taking the wrong one will only mean more problems.