What are Antibiotics?

By Mariya Rizwan

Has that ever happened to you that you had a cough and fever? When you visited the doctor, they prescribed you antibiotics. It is a common scenario.

Or do you remember the last time you had a burning in your urine? The healthcare provider told you that you have a urinary tract infection and to take an antibiotic.

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Commonly, we visit healthcare providers with an infection, and sometimes they prescribe antibiotics. Here in this article, we will tell you about antibiotics.

Antibiotics are like magic bullets, medicines to kill bacteria or prevent their replication. Therefore your healthcare provider prescribes them when they suspect you have a bacterial infection.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses. Therefore they are not a given in a viral infection. However, sometimes your healthcare provider might prescribe it because your immunity gets too low, and you are susceptible to catching bacterial infections. Therefore to prevent it, your doctors prescribe it beforehand so that multiple infections do not occur simultaneously. However, antibiotics do not play a role in curing a viral infection.

Before antibiotics were discovered, many people died of infections, and surgeries were too risky. But with their development in the 1940s, people’s life expectancy increased, and the quality of life became much better. Surgeries also became safer.

Antibiotics can help treat the following infections caused by bacteria:

  • Some ear and sinus infections
  • Dental infections
  • Strep throat
  • Bladder and kidney infections
  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Whooping cough
  • Skin infections
  • Meningitis- swelling of the brain and spinal cord
  • Clostridium difficile

To decide if the infection is bacterial or viral, the healthcare providers perform culture tests.

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They will help them know about the causative agent.

Side Effects of Antibiotics

If you take contraceptives, tell your healthcare provider if they prescribe you antibiotics because they may show fewer effects when taken with antibiotics. Therefore you might need to have another contraception method with antibiotics therapy.

Antibiotics can also kill the healthy bacteria in your body that help maintain the pH of certain secretions. In women, antibiotics intake can lead to fungal infection of the vagina. For that, you should apply an antifungal cream that helps kill its growth.

Sometimes you might also develop nausea or diarrhea with long-term antibiotics because they might kill the probiotics in your gut.

Antibiotics Resistance

A common emerging and alarming problem with antibiotic therapy is antibiotic resistance. It is a condition when the bacteria become resistant to the action of an antibiotic.

The common reasons for antibiotic resistance are:

  • The patient does not complete the antibiotic course and leaves taking it when their symptoms get better.
  • The patient does not take the antibiotic in the appropriate dose and frequency prescribed by the doctor.

Therefore to prevent it, you should take antibiotics as prescribed by your physician. Make sure not to miss any dose.

Antibiotic resistance is a severe problem that makes the treatment even more difficult. It happens because the bacteria alters itself according to the action of the antibiotic.

The Bottom Line

Antibiotics play an essential role in the treatment and eradication of bacterial infections. Take them in the appropriate doses and frequency. Make sure to follow the advice of your healthcare provider.

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