It is unlikely
that you have never used any antibiotics, and virtually
impossible that you havenít heard of them.
drugs that can only be obtained through a pharmacy by
prescription. There is a wide range of antibiotics
available and the Doctor will choose the one best suited
t the time and in the appropriate does.
donít understand why they did or didnít get an
antibiotic prescription, or why theirs was different to
someone elseís. Some basic knowledge about antibiotics
may help reduce such confusion.
In simple terms,
antibiotics are chemicals that kill bacteria. There are
other chemicals that can kill bacteria; the difference
is that antibiotics are naturally produced, rather than
invented by humans.
antibiotic, penicillin, was extracted and used in
clinical trials in the 1940s and made a huge difference
to the capabilities of medical personnel, especially
during WWII. A more refined version of penicillin is
still the most effective antibiotic available for
naturally occurring in the mould you see on oranges, but
many antibiotics prescribed today are synthetic and
commercially produced. There are many antibiotics
produced naturally, but many are either toxic to humans
or of no greater effect than existing ones; some
antibiotics are used in other ways.
continues to refine different antibiotics to maximise
their effectiveness with minimal side effects.
Note: Penicillin is actually toxic to Guinea Pigs. If
the trials of this antibiotic had been conducted on
guinea pigs, the drug may never have left the labs.
different classes of antibiotics and each works in a
work by destroying part of the bacteria or its life
cycle; some weaken the cell walls, some prevent
replication and others inhibit enzyme activity. Some
highly effective antibiotics arenít used because they do
the same damage to human cells; antibiotic action needs
to be selective in some way to be useful.
It is by
identifying which bacteria is causing a problem in the
patient that a Doctor is able to select the most
appropriate antibiotic to use in each case; each
bacteria is more susceptible to one class of antibiotic
kill bacteria other than those which are targeted;
naturally occurring bacteria in the body may be killed
along with the invading bacteria causing illness. The
death of these useful bacteria can have a number of
affects on your body: normal processes such as digestion
may be interrupted; your body has less resistance to a
subsequent attack; and various systems will be out of
containing live bacteria such as lactobacilli helps
replace some of the beneficial bacteria inadvertently
NOT kill viruses and thus are useless in fighting colds,
flu, chicken pox and other viral diseases. Disease
causing viruses are much harder to destroy as they are
embedded within the human cells, so destroying one also
destroys the other.
have a quick effect as they kill off the bulk of
bacteria rapidly and you begin to feel better. At this
stage, people often think they are better and stop
taking their antibiotics.
antibiotics work on the replication process in many
cases, there may be new cells not killed so quickly. If
you continue taking the antibiotics, all new cells
developing will be killed as well; antibiotic
prescriptions are timed to be appropriate for how that
particular antibiotic works.
Think of it this
way: a child being toilet trained will need reminders
and assistance even after a couple of successes. The
training goes beyond an apparent finish until there is a
Taking part of
the prescribed amount instead of all of it is likely to
result in a flare up shortly afterwards.
saved many, many lives and give us security in our daily
lives. As long as we respect their power and use them
wisely, antibiotics will serve us well for many years to
Tash Hughes is
a Microbiologist and the owner of
Word Constructions. She is available to solve all
your business writing problems! From letters to
policies, newsletters to web content, Word Constructions
writes all business documents to your style and