Antibiotics are a specific class of drugs designed to fight bacteria and counteract any symptoms associated with a bacterial infection. They are used only when the bacteria have already penetrated the organism's defenses, and are only rarely prescribed as a preventive measure for infections.
Other facts about antibiotics include:
- A timely and well-placed application of antibiotics can completely wipe out, or at least severely weaken the invading bacteria, allowing your organism to take care of the problem on its own. An important aspect of the mechanism of action for antibiotics is that these drugs inhibit the reproduction of bacteria, preventing them from spreading into other areas of the organism and giving our bodies enough time to clean up the infected areas. The treatment with antibiotics usually does not take very long - a standard treatment regimen commonly lasts for 1 to 2 weeks.
- One of the few important things you have to remember about antibiotics is that these drugs can only treat bacterial infections, so it is very important to know if your symptoms are actually caused by the activity of bacteria, or are they produced by something else entirely. Antibiotics have no effect whatsoever on fungal and viral infections (e.g. cold and flu), as well as infections caused by parasites.
- When you start the treatment with antibiotics, remember - you need to carry out the therapy for its full duration, as prescribed, or you may suffer from recurrent symptoms cased by antibiotic resistant bacteria. That means, even if you start feeling better half-way through the treatment, you should still continue taking your medication for as long as your physician has instructed. Antibiotics can often produce great relief of symptoms in a very limited amount of time, but it may actually take these drugs a while to completely wipe out all of the latent pockets of infection.
When receiving treatment with antibiotics, you should keep in mind that improper methods of treatment, such as using a wrong type of drug, not taking the designated daily amounts, or skipping doses, can lead to a result when the bacteria develop a resistance to that particular type of antibiotic. When that happens, the bacteria will no longer respond to the treatment with that medical compound, and possibly any drugs with the same chemical composition, and you will need to use a different medication to clear up the infection. But, as long as you diligently follow the required treatment procedures, none of this is likely to happen.
Types of Antibiotics
Antibiotics can be prescribed to treat a wide variety of infectious ailments, ranging from topical skin infections to infections of internal organs. Naturally, the dosage for each particular condition may vary, depending on its type and severity.
The delivery method will vary as well, and you may be prescribed with any of the following:
Topical Creams, Gels, Eye Drops and Salves
This type of antibiotic is designed for topical application on the affected areas of the skin, and rarely - on mucous membranes, such as inside the mouth, nose, eyes, as well as the genital area and anus. Its main advantage is that you can specifically target only the affected area for treatment and avoid systemic exposure with the drug, significantly lowering the risk of side effects.
Oral Antibiotic Pills and Liquid Solutions
Pills and tablets are perhaps the most common preparation type for antibiotics. They are easy to use and handle, and can be used to treat most types of bacterial infections. Ingestible liquids are another form of oral antibiotics - they are sometimes used when the patient has gastrointestinal problems, or if there is a need to target specific regions of the digestive system. Cipro (Ciprofloxacin) is one such drug. We will explore its traits in other articles available on this website.
In severe cases of infection, or if the patient is suffering from a very specific bacterial infection (e.g. infection of the blood), an injection or infusion of antibiotics may be used.