The term “Antibiotic” was derived from “Antibiosis”, a phenomenon of antagonism of one organism by another. The term antibiotic literally means “against life”. Antibiotics are medicines created to fight infections caused by bacteria.
Discovery of Antibiotics
In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic and named it as Penicillin. Alexander while working on Petri dishes found that the dish containing Staphylococcus aureus, a contaminating fungus (Penicillium notatum) inhibited bacterial growth.
How do Antibiotics Work?
Some of the Antibiotics often work by killing germs (bacteria or parasite). This is either done by stopping the germs to multiply or by interfering the structure of the cell wall of the germs. They are normally prescribed for more serious infections with germs. They do not treat viral and fungal infections like common cold or flu. They can be taken through injections, as tablets, liquids or capsules.
Types of Antibiotics
They are broadly classified into six categories: –
- Penicillin They treat skin infections, chest infections. E.g. – Amoxicillin and Flucloxacillin.
- Cephalosporin They treat serious infections such as septicaemia and meningitis. E.g. – Cefaclor and Cefadroxil.
- Aminoglycosides They only treat serious illness like Septicaemia, eye and ear infections as they can cause serious side-effects like hearing loss and kidney damage. They are mostly given through injections. E.g. – Tobramycin and Gentamicin.
- Tetracycline They treat severe acne and rosacea, which causes flushing of the skins and spots. E.g. – Doxycycline and Tetracycline.
- Macrolides They mostly treat lung and chest infections and can also be used for treating penicillin- resistant strains of bacteria. E.g. – Erythromycin and Azithromycin.
- Fluoroquinolones Broad spectrum antibiotics that can be used to treat a wide range of infections.
Diseases Antibiotics Treat
Bacterial infections treated by Antibiotics are as follows:
- Sinus infections;
- Strep throat;
- Urinary tract infections;
- Most ear infections(otitis media);
- Nasty bacterial skin infections (impetigo).
Antibiotics may also be taken by a person suffering from Leukemia, people undergoing Chemotherapy for cancer or people suffering from AIDS. Even some of the antibiotics like erythromycin, penicillin and cephalosporin can be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Side Effects of Antibiotics
- Vaginal itching and discharge
- White patches on the tongue
Antibiotics may also cause allergic reactions. Penicillin is mostly allergic among all the antibiotics.
Symptoms by which allergic reactions can be detected are:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of lips, face or tongue
Interactions with other drugs
Antibiotics may have interactions with other drugs. For Example: – Clarithromycin (Biaxin, an antibiotic) should not be taken with Metoclopramide (Reglan, a digestive system drug).
Some facts about Antibiotic
- Antibiotics are ineffective for cold and influenza, as they are viral diseases and available on pills4sure website. https://www.pills4sure.com/antibiotics.html
- There is no one antibiotic for everything, that is, different infections are caused by different bacteria which can only be treated by suitable antibiotics.
- Antibiotics cannot distinguish between the good and bad bacteria’s;thus, it ends up weakening one’s immune system. This means it will kill the good bacteria our body needs to fight off infection and keep a strong, healthy immune system.
- Misuse or overuse of antibiotics can make our body susceptible to reinfection and at a higher risk of developing resistant bacteria.
- They disrupt body’s balance of good and bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and thus increase the risk of obesity.
- We should not take the left-over antibiotics when we fall sick again. Since there is no one-size-fits-all antibiotic. When we reuse the old antibiotics, we actually put ourselves at risk for becoming resistant to that particular antibiotic which means it won’t work when we actually need it.
- Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health.
Mode of Action of Antibiotics
- Inhibitors of cell wall synthesis The cell walls when targeted can selectively inhibit or kill bacterial organisms. Some examples are Penicillin, Cephalosporin and Vancomycin.
- Inhibitors of cell membrane function The action of antibiotic are poorly selective and also toxic for systemic use in mammalian host since the cell membrane is present in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. Examples are Colistin and Polymixin B.
- Inhibitors of protein synthesis The antibacterial agents bind the ribosome into 30S or 50S subunits and disrupt cellular metabolism of bacteria and results in inhibition of growth or death of the organism. Examples are Lincosamides, Aminoglycosides, Macrolides and Streptogramins.
- Inhibitors of nucleic acid synthesis Some antibiotics bind with the components that are involved in DNA and RNA processes which interferes in normal cellular process or inhibit the growth and differentiation in organism. Examples are Metronidazole, Quinolones.
Tips for safe use
- Take antibiotics only when the doctor prescribes. We should not share our antibiotics with anyone else or should not take anyone else’s tablets unless the doctor prescribes.
- Always finish the antibiotic course because if left in between there is a chance of bacterial reinfection.
- We should take care of any adverse reaction caused during the antibiotic course and inform our doctor.
- We should not take antibiotics when not needed because it will make our body bacterial resistant.
Diseases which can reoccur
- TUBERCULOSIS – It is curable within six months when prescribed a course of drug. Antibiotics which can treat TB are – Rifampicin and Isoniazid.
- GONORRHOEA- It is a sexually transmitted disease and is now treatable. Antibiotics which can treat it are- Penicillin, tetracycline and even Ceftriaxone.
- KLEBSIELLA – It has symptoms like pneumonia, diarrhea and urinary tract infections.
- TYPHOID – It is caused by bacteria Salmonella Typhii and can be treated by the antibiotics and is easily curable.
- SYPHILIS AND DIPHTHERIA – They too have effective treatments and is curable.
The choice of antibiotics depends on the following factors:
- How severe is the infection?
- Dosing schedule;
- Other medications if taken any;
- The condition of Kidney and Liver and how well it is working.
Time it takes to cure a disease
- It takes a few days for water and urinary tract infections.
- It takes one to two weeks to cure pneumonia completely.
- It takes a few months to cure bone infections.
- It takes more than 2 months to cure acne.