Antibiotics - What Is It?

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Antibiotics - What Is It?
Antibiotics - What Is It?

Video: Antibiotics - What Is It?

Video: Antibiotics - What Is It?
Video: What are antibiotics? How do antibiotics work? 2023, March

Antibiotics: what is it?

Antibiotics are medicines used to treat bacterial infections. They can be used to effectively cure infectious diseases caused by bacteria. These drugs are also required in many medical procedures, such as transplants or orthopedic surgery. Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world today. However, improper and incorrect applications contribute to the fact that bacterial pathogens become resistant to antibiotics and no longer respond to treatment. Careful use of these drugs is therefore very important.


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  • What antibiotics are there?
  • How do antibiotics work?
  • What are the side effects?
  • When are antibiotics necessary?
  • What should be considered when taking antibiotics?

What antibiotics are there?

Most antibiotics are made from natural substances, especially fungi and bacteria. But there are also artificially produced antibiotics or genetically engineered antimicrobial chemotherapeutic agents. The best-known natural antibiotic is penicillin G. The antibacterial effect of certain types of mold, such as penicillium, was discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming.

Not every antibiotic is effective against every bacterium. There are different substances that are used depending on the type of pathogen. Broad-spectrum or broad-spectrum antibiotics work against a wide variety of bacteria. Antibiotics with a narrow spectrum, on the other hand, target certain groups of pathogens and thus protect the normal body flora. So-called reserve antibiotics are only used if the pathogens are resistant to the standard antibiotics and severe or rare infections are present.

How do antibiotics work?

Antibiotics only work against bacteria and not against viruses. Disease-causing bacteria can enter the body and cause inflammation. Some antibiotics kill the bacteria, while others prevent them from spreading. Antibiotics not only work against pathogens that cause illness, but also against other beneficial bacteria in the body, e.g. intestinal bacteria. This can cause side effects. In general, however, antibiotics are well tolerated.

What are the side effects?

The most common side effects of antibiotics include:

  • Stomach pain, nausea, or diarrhea,
  • allergic skin reactions such as redness, hives and itching and
  • Fungal infections of the mucous membranes, e.g. vaginal yeast infections.

The type and frequency of side effects depend on which antibiotic the patient is taking and their general state of health.

Note Tell your doctor if you have had a reaction, especially an allergic reaction, to previous antibiotic treatment. You may be prescribed a different medication.

When are antibiotics necessary?

Correct diagnosis of an infection and its triggers - bacteria or viruses - is critical to treating the disease. At the beginning it is not easy for the doctor to differentiate whether it is a viral or bacterial infection, as the symptoms can be similar.

Simple laboratory tests and microbiological diagnostics enable the doctor to determine whether the infection is bacterial or viral and which antibiotic is effective in the case of bacteria. To do this, blood is drawn from the patient or a smear is taken and a small amount of the secretion is examined in the laboratory. Elevated levels of inflammation in the blood indicate a possible bacterial infection.

Often caused by bacteria such as:

  • Tonsillitis
  • lung infection
  • Meningitis
  • Cystitis, urinary tract infection
  • purulent skin inflammation

Always caused by bacteria are, for example:

  • Scarlet fever
  • whooping cough
  • tuberculosis

Often caused by viruses such as:

  • Sore throat
  • Colds
  • sniff
  • diarrhea

Always caused by viruses e.g

  • real flu (influenza)
  • measles

Note Antibiotics do not help against viral infections!

Many infections are so easy that it is usually enough to relieve the symptoms of the disease. In otherwise healthy people, the immune system can fight the pathogens and the infection subsides. This is especially true for colds like runny nose: Antibiotics are not useful for a simple cold. They cannot relieve the runny nose or shorten the duration of the illness.

In the case of severe bacterial infections, however, antibiotics are indicated. They can be effective in speeding up healing and even saving lives, for example in pneumonia.

Basically, the following applies to treatment with antibiotics: As often as necessary or prescribed and as rarely as possible. Because: The more often antibiotics are prescribed and taken, the higher the risk that resistant bacteria (antibiotic resistance) will develop and spread.

What should be considered when taking antibiotics?

It is important that you only take antibiotics if they have been prescribed by your doctor. Follow the medication exactly, ie the times and duration of the intake!

If your doctor prescribes antibiotics for you, ask about:

  • Why do I need the antibiotic?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • How many days do I have to take the antibiotic?
  • How many times a day should I take it?
  • Can I take the antibiotic with a meal, or is it necessary to take it apart?
  • Will the antibiotic affect other drugs I'm taking?

Antibiotics are usually taken with water, as juices, dairy products, or alcohol can affect their effectiveness. Even after taking the tablet, it may be necessary not to consume any dairy product for up to three hours.

Antibiotics should usually be taken at the same time of day so that they work evenly.

Antibiotics can interact with other drugs, for example with drugs to thin the blood or to bind gastric acid (antacids). Some antibiotics can also affect the way birth control pills work.

You can find detailed information on using an antibiotic in the package insert.

For more information, see Treatment with Antibiotics: Information for Patients (Ministry of Health).

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