Treatment with Antibiotics
Antibiotics have been widely used as an effective remedy for humans since 1910 when Salvarsan was synthesized for syphilis-infected patients. They became even more popular when in 1941 an injection of pure penicillin was given to the patient suffering from blood poisoning, and high effectiveness of treatment with antibiotics was proved. In the modern world, there is a wide range of different antibiotics prescribed for various diseases, though bacteriologists permanently work to invent more and more effective kinds of antibiotics.
In general, antibiotics are medicines which belong to the class of antimicrobials aimed to treat bacterial infections. There are three possible ways to produce an antibiotic:
- Biological synthesis – deriving antibiotics from microorganisms.
- Chemical synthesis – producing antibiotics with the help of chemical compounds which coincide with the biological antibiotics’ structure.
- Combined method – an active nucleus is separated from the biologically synthesized antibiotic and enriched with various radicals by chemical synthesis.
It’s to the discretion of manufacture which method to choose, but the combined method is pleaded to be the best one as the medicines produced this way are able to deal with the microorganisms resistant to natural antibiotics. Moreover, their production is much cheaper than that of the analogous natural antibiotics.
Mechanism of Action
There are over 10,000 antibiotic substances existing, so it’s not surprising that they differ not only in the way they are produced and what bacterial infection they treat, but also how they perform their function.
Treating with antibiotics is based on their ability either to kill bacteria or stop them from multiplying. They are correspondingly named bactericidal and bacteriostatic antibiotics:
- Bactericidal antibiotics make cell walls of the bacteria weaken, which leads to their destruction. There is another way of action for bactericidal antibiotics – the contents of bacteria are made to leak out because the cell membrane is damaged by the antibiotic.
- Bacteriostatic antibiotics function is connected with the bacteria’s metabolism. They may affect protein synthesis, nucleic acid biosynthesis or generally block metabolism of the bacteria.
Types and Uses
The main and the most important difference among antibiotics is in their structure. This characteristic is crucial when speaking about bacterial infection treatment, as usually antibiotics of the same class have the same effectiveness and are used to cure certain type of bacteria.
- Penicillins – this class of bactericidal antibiotics treats dental, skin, ear, urinary tract infections, gonorrhea and respiratory tract infections.
- Macrolides – are used to treat respiratory infections, venereal, gastrointestinal tract and soft tissue infections. The type of action is bacteriostatic.
- Tetracyclines – broad spectrum antibiotics of this class are used in many cases, including upper respiratory tract infections, venereal diseases, typhus, mild acne, urinary tract infections.
- Fluoroquinolones – are bacteriostatic antibiotics which are used to cure many infections, such as respiratory, skin, urine tract infections, etc.
- Aminoglycosides – are used to treat gram-negative bacteria infections. They are usually prescribed in a combination with penicillins or cephalosporins.
- Cephalosporins – treat pneumonia, strep throat, staph infections, tonsillitis, bronchitis, otitis media, skin infections, gonorrhea. There are four generations of these antibiotics, and each newer generation can boast of better qualities.
When your doctor prescribes an antibiotic he or she should take into account the type of infection and the germ causing the illness (that’s why laboratory tests must be done), state of your liver and kidneys, whether you are allergic to the antibiotic, what side effects may appear, interaction with other drugs you might be taking and, in case of pregnancy or breast-feeding, this is an extreme case to have antibiotics prescribed.
Danger of Antibiotics
Antibiotics are widely prescribed for treating dangerous infections and are proved to be of high effectiveness. However, if used in a wrong way, they can make more harm than good. It’s strictly forbidden to take antibiotics unless they are prescribed, as it may cause bacterial resistance and further disability of the antibiotic to cure real infection. Also, in case of allergy, there may be bad consequences, up to lethal outcomes. Nearly all the antibiotics have some side effects, which may lead to other health problems apart from the one you’ve tried to treat.
Thus, if you feel ill, don’t start looking for antibiotics in your first-aid kit. It’s highly recommended to consult your doctor and, if the decision to take an antibiotic is made, strictly follow the doses to make your treatment with antibiotics effective and safe.