Antibiotics are a class of powerful medications used to treat bacterial infections in humans, animals, and plants. They work by inhibiting the growth and reproduction of bacteria or by directly killing them, helping the body’s immune system to fight off the infection more effectively. It’s important to note that antibiotics are not effective against viral infections like the common cold or the flu.
Related Glossary Terms of Antibiotics:
- Bacteria: Microscopic single-celled organisms that can cause various infections in living beings, such as strep throat, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia.
- Infection: The invasion and multiplication of pathogenic microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites, within a host organism, leading to a disease.
- Broad-spectrum Antibiotics: Antibiotics that are effective against a wide range of bacteria, both gram-positive and gram-negative. They are often used when the specific bacteria causing the infection are unknown.
- Narrow-spectrum Antibiotics: Antibiotics that are effective against only a limited group of bacteria. They are used when the causative bacteria are identified, and their susceptibility to specific antibiotics is known.
- Antibiotic Resistance: The ability of bacteria to develop mechanisms that render antibiotics less effective or completely ineffective against them. This is a significant global health concern as it can lead to more challenging-to-treat infections.
- Superbugs: Bacteria that have developed resistance to multiple antibiotics, making them difficult or impossible to treat with common antibiotic medications.
- Prophylactic Antibiotics: Antibiotics prescribed to prevent infections, particularly in high-risk situations like surgical procedures or immunocompromised individuals.
- Side Effects: Unwanted or adverse effects that can occur as a result of taking antibiotics, such as nausea, diarrhea, allergic reactions, or disruption of the gut microbiota.
- Antibiotic Stewardship: A coordinated effort to ensure the appropriate and responsible use of antibiotics to preserve their effectiveness and reduce the development of antibiotic resistance.
- Overprescription: The practice of prescribing antibiotics when they are not necessary or for conditions where they are ineffective, contributing to the development of antibiotic resistance.
It’s important to use antibiotics judiciously and only under the guidance of a healthcare professional to prevent antibiotic resistance and ensure their continued effectiveness in treating bacterial infections.