When It Comes To Antibiotics Can Too Much Of A Good Thing Be Harmful
Antibiotics are powerful drugs that help our bodies ward off diseases caused by bacteria. When used appropriately, they quickly and effectively eliminate infections, causing us to feel better in a matter of days. However, when used to treat other health conditions, antibiotics are not only ineffective but can be harmful to our overall health.
According to a growing body of research, the more we take antibiotics to cure bacterial infections, the more our bodies build resistance, which wipes out their effectiveness in making us well.
How Do I Take Antibiotics
Take antibiotics as directed on the packet or the patient information leaflet that comes with the medication, or as instructed by your GP or pharmacist.
Doses of antibiotics can be provided in several ways:
- oral antibiotics tablets, capsules or a liquid that you drink, which can be used to treat most types of mild to moderate infections in the body
- topical antibiotics creams, lotions, sprays or drops, which are often used to treat skin infections
- injections of antibiotics these can be given as an injection or infusion through a drip directly into the blood or muscle, and are usually reserved for more serious infections
It’s essential to finish taking a prescribed course of antibiotics, even if you feel better, unless a healthcare professional tells you otherwise. If you stop taking an antibiotic part way through a course, the bacteria can become resistant to the antibiotic.
Types Of Antibiotics For Bacterial Infections
A dental abscess may spread to the jaw or to the orbital area of your eyes. If that happens, you can also visit an eye specialist to know the right antibiotics you need to take. As a matter of fact, it is essential to use appropriate antibiotics in each situation, even though antibiotics can help clear infection.
Usually, your dentist may recommend topical or oral antibiotics, depending on your condition. This is because various antibiotics work in different ways to eliminate disease-causing bacteria.
In any case, here are some systemic or topical antibiotics that can help treat infection in your mouth.
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Ask Your Doctor Or Pharmacist About Ways To Feel Better If An Antibiotic Isnt Needed
For more information on common illnesses and how to feel better, visit Common Illnesses.
Antibiotics arent always the answer when youre sick. Sometimes, the best treatment when youre sick may be over-the-counter medication. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for tips on how to feel better while your body fights off an infection.
How Is Gastroenteritis Treated
Once a healthcare provider diagnoses your bacterial gastroenteritis, it is easy to treat. Antibiotics work to cure some forms of bacterial gastroenteritis within a few days. You may need additional treatment to replace the fluids and electrolytes in your body. This will depend on the severity of your illness. In some cases, you may need IV fluid replacement.
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List Of Best Antibiotic Drugs For Dogs
41 best antibiotics for dogsFDA approved oral antibiotic drugs40+ most effective antibiotics for dogs, cats, and other small animals
Can I Help Prevent Antibiotic Resistance
Australia has one of the highest rates of antibiotic consumption in the developed world, but the good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance.
- Understand that colds and flu are caused by viruses, and that antibiotics treat bacterial infections, not viruses
- Tell your doctor you only want an antibiotic if it is really necessary
- Take the right dose of your antibiotic at the right time, as prescribed by your doctor
- Take your antibiotic for as long as your doctor tells you to
- Take the pledge to fight antibiotic resistance and encourage your friends and family to as well.
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Treatment For Shigella Gastroenteritis
Treatment options for shigella gastroenteritis may include:
- plenty of fluids
- oral rehydration drinks, available from your chemist
- intravenous fluids
- eating solid foods
- avoiding anti-vomiting or anti-diarrhoea drugs unless prescribed or recommended by your doctor
- sometimes, taking appropriate antibiotics to kill the bacteria within a matter of days. Due to increasing levels of antibiotic resistance, these medications are now saved for the very sick or to reduce the spread of infection to vulnerable people or those in residential facilities.
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Whether You Actually Need Antibiotics
Ultimately the most important question everyone should ask is: Do you really need a course of antibiotics to treat your infection?
Generally speaking, you do not need an antibiotic every time you have an infection or might have an infection. They are not there to take “just in case” or to save for another occasion if you cut your treatment short. Both are bad ideas. Antibiotics do not work for colds or most upper respiratory infections.
Focus instead on avoiding infections by following three simple tips:
- Get vaccinated for both bacterial and viral infections. Speak with your healthcare provider about which ones you need or are missing.
- Wash your hands. This is not about being germ-phobic. It’s about understanding that your hands are among the most effective vectors of infection. Wash thoroughly, ideally with an antibacterial wash, whenever you are in a public place where you might pick up a bug.
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze or a cough. Try to avoid doing so into your hands as this can spread an infection to others. Instead, use a tissue or the crook of your elbow. If in a confined space such as an airplane, consider wearing a disposable mask if you are ill or at risk of infection.
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How Do Antibiotics Work
There are different types of antibiotic, which work in one of two ways:
- A bactericidal antibiotic, such as penicillin, kills the bacteria. These drugs usually interfere with either the formation of the bacterial cell wall or its cell contents.
- A bacteriostatic stops bacteria from multiplying.
Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses.
A doctor prescribes antibiotics for the treatment of a bacterial infection. It is not effective against viruses.
Know whether an infection is bacterial or viral helps to effectively treat it.
Viruses cause most upper respiratory tract infections , such as the common cold and flu. Antibiotics do not work against these viruses.
If people overuse antibiotics or use them incorrectly, the bacteria might become resistant. This means that the antibiotic becomes less effective against that type of bacterium, as the bacterium has been able to improve its defenses.
A doctor can prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic to treat a wide range of infections. A narrow-spectrum antibiotic is only effective against a few types of bacteria.
Some antibiotics attack aerobic bacteria, while others work against anaerobic bacteria. Aerobic bacteria need oxygen and anaerobic bacteria do not.
In some cases, a healthcare professional may provide antibiotics to prevent rather than treat an infection, as might be the case before surgery. This is the prophylactic use of antibiotics. People commonly use these antibiotics before bowel and orthopedic surgery.
Antibiotic Treatment Of Community
Antibiotics are the mainstay of therapy for CAP, and the initial antibiotic treatment needs to be empiric, as the causative organism or organisms are unknown at the time of presentation. However, there has been ongoing debate over a considerable period of time as to the most appropriate choice of initial empiric antibiotic treatment in the different settings: outpatient, inpatient, and intensive care unit . A number of national and international guidelines, which describe the appropriate management of CAP, have been developed some of these have been updated recently or are in the process of being updated11,15,16. It is clear when evaluating the guidelines that differences exist with regard to the various recommendations, including those for initial empiric antibiotic therapy11,1517.
Whereas a few studies have documented that combination therapy with a beta-lactam and a macrolide or fluoroquinolone has no additional benefit in critically ill patients with CAP27,28, several recent studies have confirmed the benefit of combination therapy in this situation2931. For example, Pereiraet al. documented that combination antibiotic therapy together with a macrolide was independently associated with a reduction in hospital stay and 6-month mortality 31.
Editorial Note On The Review Process
F1000 Faculty Reviews are commissioned from members of the prestigiousF1000 Faculty and are edited as a service to readers. In order to make these reviews as comprehensive and accessible as possible, the referees provide input before publication and only the final, revised version is published. The referees who approved the final version are listed with their names and affiliations but without their reports on earlier versions .
The referees who approved this article are:
- David SC Hui, Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Stanley Ho Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, ChinaNo competing interests were disclosed.
- Lars Bjerrum, Section of General Practice and Research Unit for General Practice, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, DenmarkNo competing interests were disclosed.
- Carles Llor, Primary Care Centre Via Roma, Barcelona, SpainNo competing interests were disclosed.
What Do I Need To Know About Antibiotics
Did you know:
- Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs. However, up to 50% of all the antibiotics prescribed for people are not needed nor as effective as hoped.
- The overuse of antibiotics is the single most important factor that has led to antibiotic resistance.
- Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people get serious infections with bacteria that are resistant to one or more of the antibiotics designed to treat those infections.
- At least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these antibiotic-resistant infections. Almost 250,000 people each year need hospital care for treatment of Clostridium difficile infections. This infection is very difficult to treat. The use of antibiotics was the main reason why the illness developed. At least 14,000 people die each year in the United States from C. difficile infections. Many of these infections could have been prevented.
The overuse or inappropriate use of antibiotics gives bacteria a chance to adapt. When this happens, the antibiotics no longer work as well to treat the infection the bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.
Know The Active Ingredient
Antibiotic medicines may contain one or more active ingredients and be available under different brand names. The active ingredient is the chemical in a medicine that makes it work. The medicine label should tell you the active ingredient and the brand name.
To find out more about the active ingredient see the Consumer Medicine Information for your brand of medicine, available on our Medicine Finder page or from your pharmacist or doctor.
Side Effects Of Antibiotics
As with any medicine, antibiotics can cause side effects. Most antibiotics do not cause problems if they’re used properly and serious side effects are rare.
The common side effects include:
- being sick
- bloating and indigestion
Some people may have an allergic reaction to antibiotics, especially penicillin and a type called cephalosporins. In very rare cases, this can lead to a serious allergic reaction , which is a medical emergency.
Read more about the side effects of antibiotics.
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Preventing Gastroenteritis In Healthcare Settings
Many hospitals and nursing homes take these steps to help prevent the spread of gastroenteritis:
Handwashing. Healthcare workers wash their hands well with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner before and after touching someone. They also wash their hands after touching any surface that may be contaminated.
Protective clothing. Healthcare workers wear gloves and sometimes gowns when working with people who have gastroenteritis. They remove these items before leaving the room.
Private rooms. People with bacterial gastroenteritis are placed in private rooms. Or they share a room with others who have the same infection.
Safe food handling. Kitchen workers wash their hands often, cook foods correctly, and disinfect all work surfaces.
Pros Of Taking Antibiotics
- Antibiotics can slow the growth of and kill many types of infection.
- In some cases, such as before surgery, antibiotics can prevent infection from occurring.
- Antibiotics are fast-acting some will begin working within a few hours.
- They are easy to take: Most antibiotics are oral medications. Your doctor may decide to give you an injection, if it is imperative that the medicine gets into your system quickly.
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Are There Any Natural Antibiotics
Natural antibiotics include honey, thyme essential oil, and oregano essential oil. Extracts of garlic, cranberry, and myrrh also have antibiotic properties. Several herbs are effective antibiotics, including echinacea, turmeric, and ginger.
Natural UTI treatments include D-mannose and uva ursi, along with green, parsley, mint, and chamomile teas.
You can experiment with different combinations of natural treatments to find out which are most effective for your needs.
Accidentally Taking An Extra Dose
Accidentally taking one extra dose of your antibiotic is unlikely to cause you any serious harm.
But it will increase your chances of experiencing side effects, such as pain in your stomach, diarrhoea, and feeling or being sick.
If you accidentally take more than one extra dose of your antibiotic, are worried or experiencing severe side effects, speak to your GP or call NHS 24 111 service as soon as possible.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Antibiotics
Anytime antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects. Common side effects range from minor to very severe health problems and can include:
More serious side effects can include:
- C. diff infection, which causes diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and death
- Severe and life-threatening allergic reactions
- Antibiotic-resistant infections
For more information on antibiotic resistance, visit Antibiotic Resistance Questions and Answers.
Antibiotics are important to treat infections and have saved countless lives. However, anytime antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and contribute to antibiotic resistance, one of the most urgent threats to the publics health.
When antibiotics are needed, the benefits usually outweigh the risks of side effects or antibiotic resistance. However, too many antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily and misused, which threatens the usefulness of these important drugs.
This is why its important that we all use antibiotics ONLY when we need them to protect us from harms caused by unnecessary antibiotic use and to combat antibiotic resistance.
When And Why You Might Need An Antibiotic For A Cold
Daniel More, MD, is a board-certified allergist and clinical immunologist with a background in internal medicine.
Steve Prezant / Getty
Any given adult will get a cold at least a couple of times a yearusually in the fall and winter. Kids can get many colds, maybe even half a dozen or more a year. When you get a cold, also known as an upper respiratory tract infection, should you visit your healthcare provider and get antibiotics?
The truth is, antibiotics for respiratory infections arent going to make you feel better sooner, and they might even leave you with side effects that make you feel worse.
Colds are known medically as upper respiratory tract infections because theyre usually limited to the upper half of your respiratory systemthe nose, sinuses, upper throat, larynx, and pharynx. These infections dont, for example, include infections that affect your lungs, like pneumonia.
Upper respiratory tract infections are usually caused by viruses, like rhinovirus, coronavirus, or influenza, though rarely they are caused by bacteria. Bacteria that infect the upper respiratory tract are most often S. pyogenes , or sometimes H influenzae.
Due to the development and routine administration of the H. influenzae vaccine over the past 30 years, the incidence of this infection has dropped substantially.
Antibiotics may be prescribed in a few different situations:
Names Of Common Antibiotics
Antibiotics are a common, important group of medicines that treat bacterial infections. Some antibiotics attack or break down the cell walls of bacteria, while others inhibit their protein production. This kills the bacteria or keeps it from reproducing and spreading.
Oral antibiotics are available in liquid, tablet, and capsule form. Topical antibiotics include skin creams, sprays, and ointments. Eye ointments, eye drops, and ear drops are also available. Severe infections may require injected or intravenous antibiotics.
Healthcare professionals prescribe different antibiotics to treat conditions such as strep throat, bronchitis, and inner ear infections. In this case, these infections are moderate to severe and have not improved with other treatments. Antibiotics do not treat viral illnesses, such as a cold, the flu, or mono.
These drugs are grouped according to their antibacterial activity and chemical structure. Specific antibiotics fight certain bacteria, which makes it important to take the right kind. A healthcare professional may ask for a lab culture test to determine which antibiotics you need.
Read on to learn more about the most common types of antibiotics and which infections they treat. We also explore the common side effects of antibiotics, which can include gastrointestinal problems like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as more serious effects.
Here are some types of antibiotics that doctors prescribe most often.