Antibiotics are common medications used in modern healthcare. These are potent drugs used to treat bacterial infections, although specialists fear they may be over-prescribed and aren't efficient against fungal or viral infections. Antibiotics are drugs that either kill microorganisms or stop them from reproducing, which allows the body's innate defenses to eliminate them.
Antibiotics are divided into classes and subclasses based on their chemical structure. And antibiotics in each class often impact the body differently and may be effective against different bacteria.
All antibiotics work differently to fight infections. Some antibiotics are bactericidal - they kill bacteria. A few others are bacteriostatic - they prevent bacteria from reproducing. For example, penicillins, cephalosporins, and aminoglycosides are bactericidal. Macrolides, tetracyclines, and sulfonamides are bacteriostatic.
Some bacteria can develop resistance to the effects of antibiotics. And some people are even allergic to certain antibiotics.
Although most people can take antibiotics without any side effects. Some face side effects that include:
Some antibiotics may cause a potent form of diarrhea in more severe cases. If this occurs, one should immediately stop taking the antibiotic and consult a healthcare provider.
Several antibiotics may cause side effects such as hearing loss, kidney problems, etc.
Antibiotics that are effective in the labs do not necessarily work in an infected person. Their efficacy depends on:
These may differ for each person, depending on other factors like drugs being taken, other disorders present, and age.
In selecting an antibiotic, healthcare providers also consider the following:
The time prescribed to complete the entire course of treatment is also considered. People may find it challenging to end the treatment if the drug must be taken often or only at specific times.
Blends of antibiotics may be needed to cure:
The increased use of antimicrobial agents in clinical practice and other industries such as livestock farming has led to bacterial resistance to antibiotic agents. Bacteria have developed mechanisms to promote this resistance to survive. Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a broad and increasing issue. A few antibiotics that were powerful against certain infections sometime ago are not effective anymore.
Overdose of antibiotics adds to bacterial resistance. Resistance develops when bacteria acquire the strength to continue growing despite a particular antibiotic presence.
Some studies state that antibiotics are not optimally prescribed up to 50%. They are often prescribed when not needed or with incorrect dosing or duration.
Resistance may be developed when antibiotics are consumed for a condition that isn't caused by bacteria, such as:
Taking antibiotics may put one and others at risk for antibiotic-resistant diseases.
Bacteria can also gain resistance by attaining resistance genes from other bacteria or developing a mutation resulting in reduced or eliminated antibiotic efficacy (acquired resistance).
More than one type of bacterial resistance may be present in a bacterial organism.