Antibiotics are powerful medicines that fight certain infections and can save lives when used properly. They either stop bacteria from reproducing or destroy them. Before bacteria can multiply and cause symptoms, the immune system can typically kill them. White blood cells (WBCs) attack harmful bacteria and, even if symptoms do occur, the immune system can usually cope and fight off the infection.
Role of antibiotics
1. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses such as the common cold or influenza; drugs which inhibit viruses are termed antiviral drugs or antivirals rather than antibiotics.
2. Antibiotics may be given as a preventive measure and this is usually limited to at-risk populations such as those with a weakened immune system (particularly in HIV cases to prevent pneumonia), those taking immunosuppressive drugs, cancer patients and those having surgery. Their use in surgical procedures is to help prevent infection of incisions.
3. They have an important role in dental antibiotic prophylaxis where their use may prevent bacteremia and consequent infective endocarditis.
4. Antibiotics are also used to prevent infection in cases of neutropenia particularly cancer-related.
5. Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent bacterial infections, and sometimes protozoan infections. (Metronidazole is effective against a number of parasitic diseases).
6. When an infection is suspected of being responsible for an illness but the responsible pathogen has not been identified, empiric therapy is adopted.
This involves the administration of a broad-spectrum antibiotic based on the signs and symptoms presented and are initiated pending laboratory results that can take several days.
Antibiotics are screened for any negative effects before their approval for clinical use and are usually considered safe and well-tolerated. However, some antibiotics have been associated with a wide extent of adverse side effects ranging from mild to very severe depending on the type of antibiotic used, the microbes targeted, and the individual patient. Side effects may reflect the pharmacological or toxicological properties of the antibiotic or may involve hypersensitivity or allergic reactions. Adverse effects range from fever and nausea to major allergic reactions, including photodermatitis and anaphylaxis.
Knowledge about the use of antibiotics
The trend of antibiotic use becomes common in public. The public has little knowledge about the use of antibiotics and most often people used to self-medicate themselves. There are many issues regarding trust level on prescribers and that’s why people use antibiotics themselves. They consider antibiotic 100% safe and effective. Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously elevated levels in all parts of the world.
New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases. A growing list of infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, and foodborne diseases are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less effective.
Where antibiotics can be bought for human or animal use without a prescription, the emergence and spread of resistance are made worse. Similarly, in countries without standard treatment guidelines, antibiotics are often over-prescribed by health workers and veterinarians and over-used by the public.
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