Diseases Antibiotics

How Antibiotics Work

Antibiotics are a commonly prescribed type of drug. Broken up, antibiotics means “against life” in Greek. This of course means against the life of bacterial infections. Antibiotics are a type of chemical substance medicine that attacks bacteria. There are different types of antibiotics for different kinds of bacteria. Antibiotics work like an exterminator, eliminating all the bacteria causing the problem. Only the bacteria is killed, but not the cells of the body. It does however, keep the bacteria from reproducing. Bacteria are single-cell organisms that are very tiny. Too small for the naked eye to see. There are good bacteria and harmful bacteria. The harmful bacteria cause bacterial infection and can reproduce throughout the body including the throat and organ systems. Types of bacterial infections are strep throat, urinary tract infection and other common infections. Bacteria can cause disease if allowed to reproduce. To prevent this, antibiotics must be taken.

Doctors commonly prescribe antibiotics when they confirm a bacterial infection. Antibiotics kill bacteria and the inflammation caused by the bacterial infection. Inflammation can cause pain in the area affected. The medicine helps to decrease the pain the person feels due to the inflammation as well as attacks the infection. Inflammation is the immune systems first response to a bacterial attack. Antibiotics assist the immune system in fighting off the offending infection. There are antibiotics that immediately kill the bacteria by attacking and damaging the cell wall of the bacteria. Penicillin is one of this kind of antibiotic. Another kind of antibiotic is called bacteriostatic. It stops the bacteria cells from reproducing and causing a disease. Erythromycin and tetracycline are bacteriostatic antibiotics. Broad spectrum antibiotics can be used for many types of bacterial infections. They fight a wide range of infections effectively.

Antibiotics work over a course of 7-10 days. They are to be taken each day without missing a dosage. Even though you may feel better after a day of taking it, an antibiotic course should be taken completely to fully kill all of the infection. If not, the infection can come back immediately. Antibiotics come in pill or liquid form. One pill is usually taken per day with food to prevent nausea. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, only bacteria. Colds and the flu are caused by viruses and will not benefit from any antibiotics. If you suspect you have a virus, your doctor will run tests to confirm and prescribe you the proper medication for your diagnosis.

Tips and comments

  • Antibiotics are also called antibacterials.
  • Antibiotics can have side-effects. Nausea and vomiting are common as well as diarrhea. Other side-effects caused rarely are blood disorders, blood clots, and hearing loss. Allergic reactions can also occur in some such as rashes and swelling.
  • Alcohol should not be consumed while on antibiotics. The combination of alcohol and antibiotics can cause adverse reactions like hives, allergies and ineffectiveness of the medicine. Check with your doctor about possible interactions with medicines you're already currently taking. Sometimes the combination of antibiotics and other medicines lessens the effectiveness of one or the other.
By Clarissa Bunting, published at 02/17/2012
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How Antibiotics Work. 4 of 5 based on 10 votes.

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