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Antibiotics. Bacterial Infection Treatment

Antibiotics are a huge group of medications to fight bacterial infections. While they are essential in healthcare, they should not be abused. Learn more about antibiotics from the post.

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Antibiotics: The Benefits and the Hazards of Use

The discovery of antibiotics split the world into the before and after. These medicines made a revolution in the treatment of bacterial infections.

Until the late 1920s- early 1930s, people suffering from bacterial infection would have most likely died of their disease, yet with the appearance of penicillin, the first-ever antibiotic, the statistics of deaths improved dramatically.

Currently, the goals we set for antibiotic therapy are no different than a hundred years ago. However, we also have to deal with the problem that arose from the extensive and uncontrolled use of antibacterial agents– resistance.

In this post, we’ll cover indications, contraindications, and side effects of antibiotics, as well as look at the problem of antibiotic resistance, which is growing acute these days.

What Are Antibacterial Medicines?

Substances aimed at treating bacterial infections are called antibiotics.

Depending on the type of meds you use, their mechanism of action may either be targeted at:

  • The bacterial cell wall;
  • The cell membrane;
  • Interfering with some specific bacterial enzymes;
  • Inhibiting bacterial protein synthesis;
  • Inhibiting bacterial growth.

Either way, they are effective in diseases provoked by germs.

Depending on the type of pathogens sensitive to the effects of the preparation, antibiotics are split into narrow- and broad-spectrum substances. In the first case, the medication is effective against gram-positive or gram-negative pathogens only.

The other antibacterial agents can cope with both types of germs and are often used for mixed-type infections or when the type of germ provoking the disease cannot be distinguished.

Do You Need an Antibiotic?

The knowledge about antibiotics being effective against infections brings some confusion among people. The reason is they think such medicines can be used against any type of infection, including viral. However, this is not true.

Only bacteria-induced medical conditions react to the therapy with antibiotics. Therefore, there’s no point in taking them for the flu or common cold.

What’s more, this kind of treatment is no longer routinely used for chest infections, like bronchitis, cough, and some ear and sinus infections.

If you want to know about the typical indications for taking antibiotics, check the list below:

  • Strep throat;
  • Urinary tract infections;
  • Sexually transmitted infections;
  • Gastrointestinal infections;
  • Certain respiratory infections;
  • Skin infections.

Aside from treatment, antibiotics are also often used for the prevention of germ infection in patients undergoing surgical procedures.

A study involving 1,200 random patients from six acute care facilities in the United States revealed 21.4% of antibiotics used in those people were aimed at prophylactics, not treatment.

How to Use Antibiotics?

The intake of this kind of medication should be agreed upon with your healthcare provider. There’s no place for self-treatment when it comes to antibiotics.

While the daily dosage of the preparation should be picked individually, there are some common recommendations to follow, regardless of what antibacterial drug you use.

  • It’s best to ingest your treatments on an empty stomach. This will allow the medication to work exactly as it should. Certain foods, like fruit juices and dairy products, can interfere with the absorption of antibiotics, thus reducing the effectiveness of treatment or increasing your risks of side effects.
  • If you develop diarrhea or other gastrointestinal health issues within the treatment course, you can take your pills with a meal to reduce the unwanted symptoms. You should still avoid the products mentioned above.
  • Take the preparation at the exact same time each day. This will help your body sustain the levels of the active substance, thus ensuring the effectiveness of treatment.
  • Drink enough water when taking a pill.
  • Never change the dosage you’ve been prescribed.
  • Don’t stop taking the medication earlier than required. Continue the therapy even if you no longer have any symptoms. By discontinuing the treatment too soon, you risk dealing with the infection relapse in a couple of weeks.

Contraindications to Antibiotics

When you have to deal with a bacterial infection, especially acute, there’s no way you can avoid taking antibacterial preparations. But what if you are hypersensitive to the active substance of the drug or any of its components?

In such a case, your doctor should pick out the medication that will be as effective as safe. Luckily, several classes of antibacterial agents can be used for the sametype of germs.

Are there any other contraindications besides being allergic to the drug? Yes! Some preparations are not recommended in infants, children, pregnant and lactating individuals.

These are, for instance, tetracyclines and quinolones. Such medicines affect bone development and can cause irreversible damage to the child’s health. Still, when it comes to breastfeeding or pregnant people, the benefits-risks ratio should be evaluated.

Dangerous Interactions

When you start taking antibacterial medications, you should ensure no other treatments you receive can interact with them. Why is it so important?

First, some interactions can slow down the excretion of the active substance from the body, thus boosting your risk of developing adverse reactions.

Secondly, some medications can interfere with the absorption of antibiotics, thus reducing their effectiveness.

Finally, some medicines may induce side effects similar to those antibacterial agents can. Therefore, you double your chances of experiencing those unwanted reactions.

To ensure you are on the safe side, tell your doctor if you take the following meds:

  • Warfarin;
  • Methotrexate;
  • Zinc supplements;
  • Statins (Atorvastatin, Simvastatin);
  • Antiepileptic medications;
  • Medicines with the QT-prolongation potential;
  • Benzodiazepines.

Please note that different classes of antibacterial agents get into interaction with different preparations. Therefore, checking with a doctor is essential to prevent any side effects.

Also, remember that the intake of antibiotics and drinking alcohol are not recommended, especially if you take metronidazole or tinidazole. The concomitant use of these substances may result in a range of side effects, including dizziness, hot flashes, stomach pain, headache, drowsiness, and more.

Some antibacterial medications, like rifabutin and rifampin, can reduce the effectiveness of oral birth control. So you’d better use some barrier contraception while taking these preparations.

Common Side Effects

Adverse reactions are the thing we all want to avoid when receiving any type of treatment. But as studies show, one in five adults taking antibiotics experiences at least one side effect of the medication. The most common unwanted symptoms are:

  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Bloating;
  • Poor appetite;
  • Rash;
  • Yeast infection;
  • Stomachache.

There’s also a risk of developing severe side effects such as C. difficile infection and hypersensitivity reactions.

Antibiotics Resistance: How Is It Dangerous?

Let’s start with defining resistance to antibiotics. What is it?

Many people think that it’s their body building up resistance to the medication. However, it’s not you but the germ you want to get rid of that is resistant to the effects of antimicrobial agents.

This means the pathogen adapted to the effects of the preparation and can no longer be affected by the drug.

Resistance creates a huge problem in the medical world because doctors are getting short of instruments that can effectively cope with bacterial infections. You say we can create new antibiotics, but the truth is very few new substances have seen the market within the past decades.

So, soon there may come a time when humanity will have no effective treatment for infections provoked by resistant pathogens.

How can we prevent this from happening? The answer is simple: we have to use antibiotics responsibly.

Summing up

Antibiotics changed the world and healthcare for the better. They help reduce mortality and cope with the severest infections.

However, we should use them wisely and never take such preparations “just in case”. Please, whenever you think you have a bacterial infection, consult your doctor before you buy antibiotics online.


Are all antibiotics equally effective?

This depends on the type of infection you have. If the medication is chosen correctly, and antibiotic resistance is out of play, then yes, the medication will be effective.

Can I take antibiotics in the first trimester of pregnancy?

Yes, there’s a range of medications that you can take safely throughout pregnancy. However, the benefits-risks ratio should always be considered.

How often can I use antibiotics?

You can take antimicrobial medicines as often as you need them as soon as there’s clear evidence of you having a bacterial infection. Still. It’s better to minimize the use of these drugs.

What are the symptoms of allergy to antibiotics?

Hypersensitivity reactions include rash, itchiness, swollen neck, tongue, and throat, and trouble breathing. If these occur, seek emergency help.