Discovery and Mechanism

  • Antibiotics are substances produced by certain microorganisms that inhibit the growth of or destroy bacteria and other microorganisms.
  • Alexander Fleming is credited with the discovery of the first antibiotic, penicillin, in 1928.
  • Antibiotics work by different mechanisms to impede bacterial growth. Some damage the bacterial cell wall, some disrupt protein or nucleic acid synthesis, and others interfere with metabolic pathways.

Classification of Antibiotics

  • Antibiotics are broadly classified as bacteriostatic, which inhibit bacterial growth, and bactericidal, which kill bacteria.
  • They are also classified based on their spectrum of activity. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are effective against a wide range of bacteria, while narrow-spectrum antibiotics are effective against specific types of bacteria.

Prescription and Use

  • Antibiotics are predominantly used in the treatment of bacterial infections, not viral infections. Using antibiotics for non-bacterial infections contributes to antibiotic resistance.
  • It is crucial to complete the full course of prescribed antibiotics, even if symptoms improve before all pills are taken. Premature discontinuation of antibiotics may leave some bacteria alive, leading to the development of resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic Resistance

  • Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to withstand the effects of an antibiotic to which they were once sensitive.
  • Resistance develops through the process of natural selection, whereby resistant bacteria survive and multiply. This resistance can be transferred to other bacteria via conjugation.
  • Overuse and misuse of antibiotics have contributed to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, leading to a significant public health issue.

Solutions to Antibiotic Resistance

  • Strategies to fight antibiotic resistance include the development of new antibiotics, use of combination therapy, and the development and use of vaccines to prevent bacterial infections.
  • Antimicrobial stewardship, which encourages responsible prescription and use of antibiotics, is another important strategy in combatting resistance.
  • Good personal hygiene and infection control practices in healthcare settings can also help limit the spread of resistant bacteria.

Remember, antibiotics are a vital part of modern medicine but their effectiveness is threatened by increasing antibiotic resistance. Understanding antibiotic mechanisms, use and resistance is crucial in the fight against infectious diseases.