The word antibiotic means “against life.” Any medication that kills germs within your body is technically an antibiotic. Antibiotics are used to treat or limit some types of bacterial infections. They work by destroying or slow down the growth of bacteria.
Prior to the discovery of antibiotics in the 1920s, people died from minor bacterial infections such as strep throat. Surgery was riskier, too, at that time.Later on, Alexander Fleming discovered the first natural antibiotic, penicillin, in 1928. After antibiotics became convenient in the 1940s, life spans increased, surgeries got safer. And individuals could survive what used to be life-threatening infections.
How do antibiotics work?
Antibiotics come in a variety of forms, each of which works in one of two ways.
- A bacteriostatic stops bacteria from reproducing.
- Penicillin, for example, is a bactericidal antibiotic.These medications frequently disrupt either the cell wall or its contents.
Some antibiotics work on many kinds of bacteria. They are referred to as “board -spectrum.” Others only target specific bacteria.They are known as ‘narrow-spectrum.’
A health practitioner prescribes these medication for the treatment of a bacterial infection. However, it is not effective against viruses.
Additionally Viruses can cause most upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), like the common cold and flu. These drugs don’t work against these viruses. If individuals overuse these medication or misuse them, the bacteria may become resistant. This suggests that the antibiotic becomes less effective against that type of bacterium because the bacterium has been able to improve its defenses.
Antibiotics can treat these types of infections
- Skin infections
- Strep throat
- Dental infections
- Whooping cough
- Bladder and kidney infections
- Bacterial pneumonia
Only bacterial infections can be killed with antibiotics. Most cough, common cold, flu, bronchitis infections, sore throats, and stomach flu are caused by viruses. Antibiotics won’t work to treat them.
As your gut is full of bacteria both bad and the good antibiotics usually affect your digestive system while treating an infection. Common side effects include:
- upset stomach
Older adults may experience bowel inflammation, which can sometimes lead to severe, bloody diarrhea.
Many people may experience an allergic reaction to antibiotics, especially penicillins, such as skin allergy, swelling of the face and tongue, and trouble breathing. So, if you have an allergic reaction, make an appointment with your doctor right away because sometimes reactions to antibiotics can be serious.
How to use
People usually take antibiotics orally. But, physicians can administer them by injection or directly apply them to the area of the body with an infection. Many antibiotics begin fighting infection within a few hours.To avoid a recurrence of the infection, finish the entire course of medication.
Stopping the medication before the course has complete increases the risk of that the bacteria will become resistant to future treatments .You have to complete the course of antibiotic treatment even after you see an improvement in symptoms. Avoid drinking alcohol if you are taking metronidazole. Also avoid dairy products if someone is taking tetracyclines because this might disrupt the absorption of the medication.