Antibiotic Its Uses And Side Effects

Antibiotic Its Uses And Side Effects
Antibiotic Its Uses And Side

What is Antibiotic ?

Antibiotic a medicine that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms.Antibiotics, also known as antibacterials, are types of medications that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria. The Greek word anti means “against”, and the Greek word biosmeans “life” (bacteria are life forms).

Before bacteria can multiply and cause symptoms, the body’s immune system can usually destroy them. We have special white blood cells that attack harmful bacteria. Even if symptoms do occur, our immune system can usually cope and fight off the infection. There are occasions, however, when it is all too much and some help is needed…..from antibiotics.

Uses Of Antibiotic

Antibiotics only treat infections caused by some bacteria.  They do not work for illnesses like colds and flu which are caused by viruses. Most sore throats and acute respiratory infections, and many earaches, are also caused by viruses. 

Antibiotics work on bacterial infections like pneumonia, strep throat, urinary and skin/wound infections.  Your doctor will know when it is appropriate to use antibiotics, and may take a throat swab, blood sample, or sputum sample before deciding how to treat your infection.

Types Of Antibiotic

Although there are well over 100 antibiotics, the majority come from only a few types of drugs. These are the main classes of antibiotics.

  • Penicillins such as penicillin and amoxicillin
  • Cephalosporins such as cephalexin(Keflex)
  • Macrolides such as erythromycin (E-Mycin), clarithromycin (Biaxin), and azithromycin (Zithromax)
  • Fluoroquinolones such as ciprofloxacin(Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), and ofloxacin (Floxin)
  • Sulfonamides such as co-trimoxazole (Bactrim) and trimethoprim (Proloprim)
  • Tetracyclines such as tetracycline(Sumycin, Panmycin) and doxycycline(Vibramycin)
  • Aminoglycosides such as gentamicin (Garamycin) and tobramycin (Tobrex).

Side Effects Of Antibiotics

Diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting are common

The most common side effects of almost all antibiotics are stomach problems such as diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Between 1 and 10 in every 100 people taking an antibiotic will experience these side effects (up to 10%).

These side effects happen because antibiotics can sometimes cause the gut (intestine) lining to become inflamed, and may disturb the balance of ‘good’ (harmless) and ‘bad’ (potentially disease-causing) bacteria in the gut. These effects may result in your intestines being less able to absorb water and nutrients from food, resulting in diarrhoea.

Thrush (candidiasis)

Thrush is an infection caused by the yeast Candida albicans (or candida). Candida normally lives harmlessly in your body, including in the vagina. Its growth is kept under control by your immune system and the other bacteria found in the body. For some women, taking antibiotics can upset the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina and this allows candida to grow, causing thrush. The symptoms of thrush include itchiness, pain and a vaginal discharge.

Thrush can also affect other parts of the body including your mouth (white patches will be visible) and skin.

Thrush is common; between 1 and 10 in every 100 people who have recently been taking antibiotics will experience thrush (up to 10%).

You can buy antifungal medicines (e.g. Canesten) to treat thrush from your pharmacy without a prescription.

Clostridium difficile-associated disease

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a bacterium found in the gut (intestines) of many people, together with many other types of bacteria (e.g. Escherichia coli or E. coli). All the bacteria generally live in balance together, with the harmless (‘good’) gut bacteria helping to keep the number of ‘bad’ C. difficile bacteria low.

If you are taking an antibiotic (e.g. amoxycillin) that kills the bacteria causing your respiratory tract infection and some of the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut, but not C. difficile, this allows the C. difficile bacteria to thrive and multiply and potentially cause C. difficile-associated disease.

This doesn’t happen often; between 1 and 10 in every 1000 people who have recently been taking antibiotics will experience C. difficile-associated disease (0.1%–1%).

Symptoms of a C. difficile infection can range from mild diarrhoea to life-threatening bowel inflammation. No treatment is needed in most mild C. difficile infections, but antibiotics may be needed to treat more severe infections.

Allergic reactions

Some antibiotics (e.g. penicillin or a related antibiotic such as amoxycillin) can cause allergic or hypersensitivity reactions such as hives (large, red, raised areas on the skin), fever and breathing problems. Very rarely*, a person may experience a severe or immediate allergic reaction to the antibiotic (anaphylaxis).

It is not known why this happens to some people and not others, but it may mean that you will have to avoid taking amoxycillin and any penicillin-related antibiotic in the future.

If you have developed a rash or hives, or you have had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to an antibiotic in the past, make sure you tell your doctor so you don’t get the same kind of antibiotic prescribed again. Another type of antibiotic will probably not cause the same problem.


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