WHAT ARE ANTIBIOTICS?
Antibiotics work to kill bacteria. Bacteria are single-cell organisms. If bacteria make it past our immune systems and start reproducing inside our bodies, they cause disease. We want to kill the bacteria to eliminate the disease.
Certain bacteria produce chemicals that damage or disable parts of our bodies. In an ear infection, for example, bacteria have gotten into the inner ear. The body is working to fight the bacteria, but the immune system's natural processes produce inflammation. Inflammation in your ear is painful. So you take an antibiotic to kill the bacteria and eliminate the inflammation.
An antibiotic is a selective poison. It has been chosen so that it will kill the desired bacteria, but not the cells in your body. Each different type of antibiotic affects different bacteria in different ways. For example, an antibiotic might inhibit a bacterium's ability to turn glucose into energy, or its ability to construct its cell wall. When this happens, the bacterium dies instead of reproducing. At the same time, the antibiotic acts only on the bacterium's cell-wall-building mechanism, not on a normal cell's.
Antibiotics do not work on viruses because viruses are not alive. A bacterium is a living, reproducing lifeform. A virus is just a piece of DNA (or RNA). A virus injects its DNA into a living cell and has that cell reproduce more of the viral DNA. With a virus there is nothing to "kill," so antibiotics don't work on it.
Disease-causing microbes that have become resistant to drug therapy are an increasing public health problem. Tuberculosis, gonorrhea, malaria, and childhood ear infections are just a few of the diseases that have become hard to treat with antibiotic drugs.
MAJOR CLASSES OF ANTIBIOTICS
OTHER ANTIBIOTIC FACTS:
Though food-producing animals are given antibiotic drugs for important therapeutic, disease prevention or production reasons, these drugs can cause microbes to become resistant to drugs used to treat human illness, ultimately making some human sicknesses harder to treat.
About 70 percent of bacteria that cause infections in hospitals are resistant to at least one of the drugs most commonly used to treat infections.
Some organisms are resistant to all approved antibiotics and must be treated with experimental and potentially toxic drugs.
Some research has shown that antibiotics are given to patients more often than guidelines set by federal and other healthcare organizations recommend. For example, patients sometimes ask their doctors for antibiotics for a cold, cough, or the flu, all of which are viral and don't respond to antibiotics. Also, patients who are prescribed antibiotics but don't take the full dosing regimen can contribute to resistance.
IMPACT OF ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE
Increased rates of treatment failure
Poor patient outcomes
Increased need for combination therapy
Increased cost of treatment
Unless antibiotic resistance problems are detected as they emerge, and actions are taken to contain them, the world could be faced with previously treatable diseases that have again become untreatable, as in the days before antibiotics were developed.
ANTIBIOTIC MISUSE AND RESISTANCE
Use of antibiotics to treat viral infections
Inadequate pathogen converage
Excessive use of broad-spectrum agents
Poor adherence to antibiotic therapy
Retaining unfinished antibiotics for later use
DISCLAIMER: **This web site's goal is to provide you with information that may be useful in attaining optimal health. Nothing in it is meant as a prescription or as medical advice. You should check with your physician before implementing any changes in your exercise or lifestyle habits, especially if you have physical problems or are taking medications of any kind.