Definition of Antibiotics

  • Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections.
  • These drugs work by killing bacteria or inhibiting their growth.
  • They are a type of antimicrobial used specifically in the treatment of infections caused by bacteria.

Types and Examples of Antibiotics

  • Penicillin, discovered by Alexander Fleming, was the first antibiotic and its discovery revolutionised medicine.
  • Other common types of antibiotics include Amoxicillin, Erythromycin, Ciprofloxacin, and Doxycycline.
  • Antibiotics can be further categorised into broad-spectrum and narrow-spectrum based on the range of bacteria they target.

How Antibiotics Work

  • Antibiotics target the specific structures present in bacteria but not in human cells.
  • Some antibiotics, like penicillin, disrupt the building of the bacterial cell wall, causing the bacteria to burst and die.
  • Others interfere with the protein building of bacteria or disrupt their DNA replication process.

Uses and Efficacy of Antibiotics

  • Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria, such as strep throat, urinary tract infections, and certain types of pneumonia.
  • They are not effective against viral infections such as the common cold, flu, and most types of bronchitis.

Drug Resistance

  • The overuse and misuse of antibiotics have led to a serious global concern of antibiotic resistance, where bacteria evolve to resist the effects of these drugs.
  • This makes the treatment of certain diseases more challenging and poses a significant risk to public health.
  • Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant organisms can lead to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality.

Responsible Use of Antibiotics

  • Antibiotics should be used responsibly. This means taking them exactly as prescribed, not sharing them with others, and never using leftover prescriptions.
  • These practices help reduce the development and spread of antibiotic resistance.
  • Antibiotics should not be used to treat viral infections, as they have no effect on these illnesses and their misuse hastens antibiotic resistance.

Understanding the properties, uses, and challenges associated with antibiotics will enable you to grasp important aspects of modern medicine and health-related biology. It will also assist in having an understanding of the issues associated with antibiotic resistance, a significant topic in public health.