Antibiotics: All You Need to Know! The use of antibiotics has transformed modern medicine and saved millions of lives. Antibiotics are among the most frequently prescribed medicines and are used to treat a wide variety of infections caused by bacteria.
Before scientists first discovered antibiotics, infections caused by bacteria were among the leading causes of death. After antibiotics became available, people could survive what used to be deadly infections, and life expectancy increased. Today, several different antibiotics are available, that help to cure minor and life-threatening infections.
All you need to know about antibiotics and their function, side effects, and correct use are explained in this article.
What are Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are powerful medicines used to treat or prevent several types of infections caused by bacteria. Furthermore, Antibiotics don’t work for infections caused by viruses such as colds and flu, and most coughs and sore throats.
Moreover, Antibiotics are usually taken by mouth as tablets or liquids, or they can be given by injection. They are also available as creams or lotions to apply to the skin to treat certain skin infections. In addition, examples of antibiotics include penicillin, gentamicin, doxycycline, azithromycin, ciprofloxacin etc.
How do Antibiotics work?
Antibiotics work by killing the bacteria or preventing them from multiplying. This helps the body’s natural immune system to fight the bacterial infection. Each antibiotic is effective only against certain bacteria. This is why different antibiotics are used to treat different types of infection.
Antibiotics that affect a wide range of bacteria are called broad-spectrum antibiotics (e.g., ciprofloxacin). Moreover, Antibiotics that affect only specific types of bacteria are called narrow-spectrum antibiotics (e.g., azithromycin).
When are Antibiotics Needed?
- Less serious conditions that can be treated with antibiotics include some ear and sinus infections, dental infections, and skin infections.
- We also need antibiotics to treat serious infections, such as pneumonia, meningitis, bladder and kidney infections, whooping cough, and life-threatening conditions like sepsis.
- Antibiotics are also given as a precaution to people who are at high risk of developing infections, such as patients undergoing surgery or patients receiving cancer therapy (chemotherapy).
What are the possible Side Effects?
- As with any other medication, antibiotics can also cause side effects. Many of these side effects are not serious and can be reduced by taking medicines correctly (see below).
- The most common side effects of antibiotics usually involve the digestive system. These include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, bloating and indigestion, loss of appetite, and fungal infections.
- Less commonly, some antibiotics can also cause mild to severe allergic reactions, such as hives (raised, itchy skin rash), shortness of breath etc.
- Antibiotics can sometimes interact with other medicines or substances like alcohol. This may cause reactions, or reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.
- Some antibiotics are not suitable for people who have liver or kidney problems or who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
How to use Antibiotics Correctly?
- Your doctor will decide which antibiotic will work best for your infection. Only take the medicine your doctor has prescribed for you.
- Take the right dose of your antibiotic at the right time, as prescribed. Do not skip doses.
- Some antibiotics need to be taken with food, while others require an empty stomach. Taking your antibiotics incorrectly may affect their absorption, reducing their effectiveness.
- Always take the complete course of antibiotics as directed by your doctor. Even if you are feeling better, finish the whole course, to prevent the infection from coming back.
- Don’t use leftover antibiotics from a previous prescription. The type, dose and amount may not be enough to treat a new infection.
- Never share antibiotics with others, as they may have a different infection.
What is Antibiotics Resistance?
Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to resist the action of an antibiotic. In addition, Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change over time in a way that antibiotics no longer work on them. The overuse and incorrect use of antibiotics are key factors contributing to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. “Superbugs” are bacteria that are resistant to several different antibiotics. Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria are harder to treat, cause more complications and in serious cases, even death.
Disclaimer: All material on Hidoc.co is provided for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of your physician for any questions regarding your symptoms or medical condition and before taking any home remedies or supplements.