What is an Antibiotic and What Does it do?
An antibiotic is a type of medicine that’s used to treat bacterial infections and diseases. Antibiotics have saved millions of lives since their introduction in the 1940s and are an integral part of modern medicine.
How Do Antibiotics Work?
Antibiotics work by blocking the processes that allow bacteria to multiply so that the body’s immune system can fight off the infection. Antibiotics can be classified as:
Broad-Spectrum: Affects a wide range of different bacteria (e.g., amoxicillin).
Narrow-Spectrum: Affects only a few bacteria types (e.g., penicillin).
The process by which antibiotics affect bacteria can differ between antibiotics. For instance, some antibiotics may alter the way a bacterial cell functions, while others may work by destroying the walls of the bacterial cell. Which antibiotic doctors prescribe is dependent upon the bacteria suspected of causing the infection.
What Conditions Do Antibiotics Treat?
Antibiotics are useful for treating serious infections that result from bacteria, such as whooping cough, and may be a good option for treating people with ongoing health problems, such as lung diseases or asthma. Moreover, antibiotics are more necessary for people who are in poor health, aging, or have a weakened immune system. Doctors often prescribe antibiotics for patients who have an increased risk of respiratory complications. Clinical studies show that antibiotics are not useful for treating or stopping the spread of colds or the flu.
What Antibiotics Don’t Do
There are many misconceptions about antibiotics that often lead to misuse. Improper usage of antibiotics can contribute to antibiotic resistance. It is important to realize that antibiotics are NOT an effective treatment for viruses of any kind. Illnesses such as influenza, COVID-19, and the common cold are viral infections and, as such, should not be treated with antibiotics. Many common bacterial infections can also be overcome without using antibiotics. Sinus infections and some ear infections will clear up over time with proper care under a doctor’s supervision.
What is Antibiotic Resistance?
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria evolve to protect themselves from a particular antibiotic. When bacteria become resistant to the antibiotic, it will no longer stop the bacteria from multiplying, and it will no longer kill the bacteria. This can be a problem because it limits the number of antibiotic options that doctors have for killing bacterial infections.
Doctors fear that many common infections will eventually be untreatable with antibiotics due to antibiotic resistance, which is a serious enough problem that the World Health Organization called it one of the biggest public health threats of modern times. This may give rise to the development of more so-called superbugs that are difficult to treat due to antibiotic resistance—such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, or staph infection, often reported in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.
Reach out to Signature Medicine to consult with a concierge doctor near Richboro, PA, for caring, compassionate, and personalized medical help regarding sinus infections and other conditions.