If you have ever been sick with an infection like strep throat or urinary tract infection, chances are that your doctor has prescribed you some form of antibiotics to help you feel better. Antibiotics have been a great resource to help clear up bacterial infections since their discovery in the late 1920s.
Over the recent years, some say that today’s society has been misusing antibiotics and have been taking them whenever they feel the slightest bit of discomfort. While antibiotics can still save lives when administered the wrong way, they can cause more harm than good.
Being informed about what antibiotics are and knowing the right time to use them will help prevent you from getting sick and protect you from antibiotic resistance.
What Are Antibiotics?
A substance that prevents the growth or reproduction of bacteria or kills bacteria can be classified as an antibiotic. Antibiotics are strong medicines that fight certain infections and can save lives when used properly.
When bacteria forms and causes certain symptoms, your immune system usually kills them by using your white blood cells (WBCs) to attack the harmful bacteria, and if symptoms do occur, your immune system usually manages to fight off infections.
However, when there is a high number of bacteria, your immune system might not be able to fight them all off and will need the assistance of antibiotics.
Considered the father of antibiotics, Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic in 1928 called penicillin, which was derived from Penicillium mold, a mold that is similar to the mold you find on old bread. Since this discovery, many would agree that antibiotics have led to a boost in the quality of life and the life expectancy of humans all over the world.
With all the new antibiotic medications available, many people visit the doctor when they become sick because it is easy to be prescribed antibiotics that work effectively in a fraction of the time than without them.
Although antibiotics have made important advancements in improving illnesses, they need to be taken responsibly and used properly in order to be effective. Interestingly, it was recently found that antibiotics have become less effective as more people have become antibiotic resistant.
Alexander Fleming was the first to predict that we might become resistant to antibiotics and he was right. In the recent years, antibiotics have become less effective and an increase in antibiotic resistance has multiplied.
One of the major contributions to the resistance of antibiotics is the misuse of this medication and the tendency for them to be overprescribed.
Many people often confuse viral with bacterial infections. If a virus is the cause of the illness, then taking antibiotics may not be the best choice and can do more harm than good. Using antibiotics when you don’t need to can add to antibiotic resistance, which is when the bacterial culture’s structure changes and becomes resistant to the effects of an antibiotic.
Important Tips for Taking Antibiotics
- Follow the directions carefully when taking antibiotics and talk to your doctor about the correct administration to ensure the effectiveness of the antibiotics.
- Never save or use old prescriptions or take prescriptions from someone else.
- Make sure you finish all of your medication, even if you do feel better, because if you stop your treatment too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you.
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Antibiotics. (2018, April 25). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/antibiotics.html
Nordqvist, C. (2018, July 25). Antibiotics: Uses, resistance, and side effects. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/10278.php