hand dispensing antibiotics

All About Antibiotics

There were nearly 270 million antibiotic prescriptions written by medical professionals in 2015.

Antibiotics work by slowing down or destroying bacteria. They help to cure minor illnesses and prevent those illnesses from turning more serious. Antibiotics come in many forms such as tablets, creams, capsules, ointments and liquids. They begin working immediately, though the body may not see any improvement for a day or two.

Different antibiotics are prescribed based on the symptoms and diagnosis. Here are some of the most common:

  • Amoxicillin: Amoxicillin is a type of penicillin used to treat a wide variety of illnesses. It works by preventing the bacteria from growing and killing it. It is commonly prescribed for bronchitis, skin, ear and throat infections, gonorrhea, Lyme disease, pneumonia, tonsillitis, typhoid and urinary tract infections.
  • Azithromycin: Azithromycin works by stopping the bacteria from producing the protein it needs to survive. It is sometimes used to treat bronchitis, pneumonia, STDs and infections of the reproductive organs, respiratory system and skin.
  • Clindamycin: Clindamycin works the same way as azithromycin does, halting protein production by the bacteria. It treats bacterial infections of the blood, female reproductive organs, internal organs, lungs and skin.
  • Cephalexin: Cephalexin blocks the formation of bacteria cell walls. It treats respiratory tract infections and infections of the bone, ears, skin and urinary tract.
  • Ciprofloxacin: Ciprofloxacin works by stopping one of the bacterial enzymes from working. It is typically prescribed for pneumonia, gonorrhea, typhoid fever, infectious diarrhea and infections of the skin, bone, joints, abdomen and prostate. In some cases, it may also be prescribed for sinus infections, urinary tract infections or bronchitis, but experts only recommend using it if there are no other treatment options for these illnesses.
  • Doxycycline: Doxycycline prevents amino acids from linking together, which helps to stop bacteria from reproducing, but doesn’t necessarily kill the bacteria that is already alive. It is typically prescribed to treat infections spread by other living animals and insects as well as respiratory infections and infections of the intestinal, lymphatic and urinary systems. In some cases it is also used to treat acne.

You should always talk to your doctor about the risks and side effects associated with any medication before you begin taking it. Some other questions you may want to consider before using the prescription include:

  • Can the illness be healed without a prescription?
  • How should I take or use this prescription?
  • Will this interfere with any current medications?
  • What are the risks or potential side effects?
  • Are there certain foods or drinks I should avoid?
  • If I don’t need an antibiotic now, what are some of the signs that I do need one later?

Antibiotics are not effective for viral infections and should not be taken before the infection has become bacterial. Taking prescriptions when not required may lead to a condition called antibiotic resistance. People with antibiotic resistance experience longer illnesses, more difficult treatment paths and more frequent doctor’s visits. When a person with antibiotic resistance spreads germs, the bacteria spread to other people may also be antibiotic resistant, making the treatment methods more difficult for that individual. Patients should always listen to their doctor’s instructions and only take the prescription when absolutely necessary. It may sound contradictory, but one of the ways to prevent antibiotic resistance is to finish your full prescription, even if you’re feeling better. Failing to do so may not fully heal the body, leading to the resurgence of the infection. The remaining bacteria will not be as responsive to the prescription as it was before.

Remember that your health should always be the top priority and keeping it there is just what the doctor ordered.

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Photo credit: RidoFranz

 

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