Antibiotics – Less is More

Read to know more facts about Antibiotics and its property

What are Antibiotics? Medicines that help prevent infections caused by bacteria inside our body are Antibiotics. They do this either by engulfing

What are Antibiotics?

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Medicines that help prevent infections caused by bacteria inside our body are Antibiotics. They do this either by engulfing the bacteria-killing them or by preventing the bacteria from producing more of its kind, i.e. reproduction. Antibiotics mean ‘Against life’ hence any drug that kills germs or pathogens is known to be an Antibiotic. Antibiotics were first discovered in the 1920s and the first discovered antibiotic was Penicillin by Alexander Fleming while working on Staphylococcus bacteria. Antibiotics have revolutionized medicine and are known as the wonder drugs that have saved countless lives over the past century.

Work and Need of Antibiotics

 Antibiotics work using one of the four mechanisms as per the situation demands. The four mechanisms are – Cell wall biosynthesis, nucleic acid metabolism and repair, protein synthesis and the disruption of membrane structure. In bacteria, there are three targets onto which the antibiotics attack. The cell wall or membranes that surrounds the bacterial cell, the machinery that makes the nucleic acids DNA and RNA and the machinery that produce proteins. If a person is infected with a particular bacteria causing a particular disease, the antibiotic targets one of the three targets and engulfs the bacteria or prevents its growth. Human cells lack these targets, hence antibiotics if present do not harm the cell but are specific to the bacteria. However, not always do the antibiotics are harmless, they do cause unpleasant side-effects on occasions.

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Antibiotics are essential by the human body as they kill the bacteria or prevent their growth. Antibiotics that kill the bacteria are known as bactericidal antibiotics while those who stop the growth of bacteria are known as bacteriostatic antibiotics. Talking about its range of activity, antibiotics have a broad spectrum of activity. There are two sets – Narrow spectrum antibiotics and Broad-spectrum antibiotics. Narrow-spectrum antibiotics are specific and active for a particular strain of bacteria whereas broad-spectrum bacteria are active for a broader range of bacteria. Practically narrow-spectrum bacteria should be preferred as they are bacteria-specific and limited but broad-spectrum bacteria are used as it is difficult for doctors to diagnose the correct bacteria in time. 


Antibiotics are usually considered safe and well-tolerated. However, there are some antibiotics that do not adhere to tolerance and have been associated with adverse side-effects ranging from mild to extremely severe depending on the type of antibiotic used, the microbes targeted, and the individual patient. Antibiotic side-effects mainly reflect on the pharmacological or toxic properties but may also involve hypersensitivity or allergic reactions. 

Some common side-effects from the use of antibiotics are – 

  • While treating an infection, the antibiotic is most likely to affect the digestive system and cause diarrhea.
  • Vomiting and nausea are also seen when one is treated with antibiotics.
  • Bloating, indigestion, loss of appetite and abdominal pain are common side effects seen following the treatment with antibiotics.  
  • Occasionally, there may be an itchy skin rash known as Hives as an impact of the use of Antibiotics. 
  • Troubled breathing, wheezing and coughing are also some occasionally seen side effects from the use of antibiotics.
  • Sometimes excess use of antibiotics can increase the risk of oral contraceptive failures.
  • There are specific types of antibiotics which with alcohol consumption may cause serious side effects and decrease the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy

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Antibiotics – Less is More!

Seeing the adverse effect of antibiotics and their specificity, antibiotics should be consumed less. It is not necessary to take antibiotics when suffering from cold or flu or any other viral infections, because a) Antibiotics would not work and b) unnecessary use of antibiotics may cause adverse side effects or react with viral pathogens resulting in a harmful impact. Antibiotics are often the ‘just in case’ medicines and are thus prescribed everywhere leading to overprescription and overuse.

Pertinacious and high use of antibiotics and exposure may cause antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics will kill most of the bacteria but there will always be some that are resistant and have become tolerant to the antibiotic exposure. Now, these resistant bacteria may transmit and multiply this resistance to other bacteria as well, leading to the formation of resistant bacteria colony. Thus high levels of antibiotic use cause antibiotic resistance. 

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When antibiotics are prescribed they come along with the admonition of taking them for 14 days even though we feel alright after 3 days. Why? Because we are told that we need to finish the course of medicine to create a secondary response for future infections. That is where we all go wrong. Not all of us are aware of the fact that excessive use of antibiotics causes resistance which will further hamper our health. So if you are feeling better in 3 or 5 days after the use of antibiotics, you should stop then and there. We often listen to the advice by our doctors and complete the 14 days course of antibiotics when it is absolutely unnecessary. Antibiotic resistance is something that will affect only your entire immune system and also the health care system which will benefit nobody.

So, let’s be logical about the use of antibiotics. We should use them when we need them and take them until we feel better. Next, have faith and rely on your body, assuming that you are otherwise healthy, proper rest and a healthy diet will help you recover. Use antibiotics only when you need them, for instance, if you need them for 3 days take them for 3 days, if you need them for 2 weeks take them for 2 weeks, but do not take them for 2 weeks when you only need them for 2 days. When not required, antibiotics should be at a far distance, like for the treatment of viral infections.

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