Antibiotics: Introduction, Types, Uses and Side Effects


According to the National Library of  Medicine antibiotics are powerful medicines that help us fight bacterial infections. They’ve been crucial in saving lives but we need to use them wisely. So in this article we’ll explore what antibiotics are, how they work and why it’s important to use them carefully to avoid problems like antibiotics resistance.

What are Antibiotics?

Bacteria can multiply and cause symptoms, the immune system can typically kill them. White blood cells attack harmful bacteria even if symptoms occur the immune system can usually cope and fend off the infection. However, sometimes the number of harmful bacteria is excessive and the immune system can’t clear them all. Antibiotics are useful in this scenario. The first antibiotic was penicillin. It based antibiotics such as ampicillin, amoxicillin and penicillin G are still available to treat a variety of infections and have been in use for many years. Several types of modern antibiotics are available and they are and they are usually only available with a prescription in the United States. Topical antibiotics are available in over-the-counter (OTC) creams and ointments.

How do Antibiotics Work?

They have different ways of fighting bacteria. They may break down the walls of bacterial cells or interfere with their growth. Knowing how it does their job helps scientists create effective treatments. There are different types of antibiotic which work in their unique way. However, the two main they work include:

  • A bacterial antibiotics 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.
  • It may take a few hours or days after taking the first dose before people feel better or their symptoms improve.

Types of Antibiotics:

There are various classes or groups of it which depend on their chemical structure. Some classes of it’s include the following:


                    Class                Examples
Penicillin’s Amoxicillin (Amoxil)
Macrolides Azithromycin (Zithromax)
Cephalosporins Cephalexin (Keflex)
Fluoroquinolones Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
Beta lactams with increased


Amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin)
Urinary anti-infective Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid)
Lincosamides Clindamycin (Cleocin)


Other classes and brand names exist. In addition, penicillin’s, Cephalosporins and others may be regarded as subclasses of beta lactam drugs.

Why is it Important to Take Antibiotics When Needed?

Experts advise using it only when they are needed. This is to ensure that the bacteria is killed and is unable to multiply and spread to other parts of the body. Also, it use can sometimes be associated with side effects and its resistance.


Its resistance occurs when germs no longer respond to it designed to kill them. Inappropriate prescription of it is driving up the incidence of its resistance. Sometimes prescription of the wrong medications or the wrong dosages can lead to misuse. Misuse can also occur when people do not take it as their doctor prescribes. Some measures people can take include finishing the treatment course and not sharing its medications with others even if they have the same symptoms. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that in the United States around 47 million it’s courses are inappropriately prescribed to people meaning their illness did not require it. CRE, or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales, pose a major concern to people in hospitals and other healthcare settings. Even believe that carbapenem resistance may lead to:

  • A greater incidence of disease
  • A reduction in the effectiveness of initial antibiotics therapy
  • Poorer outcomes

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1945, Alexander Fleming said:

Then there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily undergoes himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant. As the man who discovered the first time antibiotics predicted drug resistance is starting to become commonplace. It’s resistance is now considered one of the greatest public health challenges.

What do Antibiotics Treat?

A physician recommends it to address bacterial infections, as these medications are ineffective against viral infections. Distinguishing between bacterial and viral origins aids in tailoring effective treatments. Viruses commonly instigate upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold and flu conditions for which it proves futile. Misuse or overuse of it can lead to bacterial resistance diminishing the drug’s efficacy as bacteria develop enhanced defenses. Physicians may prescribe broad-spectrum it to combat a wide array of infections while narrow-spectrum it targets specific bacteria types. Some antibiotics are effective against aerobic bacteria, which require oxygen while others combat anaerobic bacteria that thrive without oxygen. Occasionally, healthcare professionals administer antibiotics prophylactically aiming to prevent rather than treat infections, a practice commonly observed before surgeries such as bowel and orthopedic procedures.

Side-effects of Antibiotics:

It’s commonly cause the following side effects:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • Upset stomach
  • Sensitivity to sunlight when taking tetracycline
  • Certain it or prolonged use fungal infections of the mouth, digestive tract and vagina

Some unusual side effects of it’s include:

  • Low platelet count when taking cephalosporins and penicillin among others
  • Severe aches and pain when taking fluoroquinolones
  • Hearing loss when taking macrolides or aminoglycosides
  • Low granulocyte a type of WBC count when taking penicillin
  • Formation of kidney stone when taking sulfonamides

Some people, especially older adults may develop C.difficile infection. They may experience bowel inflammation which can lead to severe bloody diarrhea.

Allergy of Antibiotics:

Some people develop an allergic reaction to it, especially penicillin. Side effects might include:

  • A raised rash or hives
  • Swelling of the tongue and face
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A fast heart rate
  • Fast shallow breathing
  • Clammy skin
  • Anxiety or confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Blue or white lips
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

Interactions of Antibiotics:

Individuals taking it should not take other medicines or herbal remedies without speaking with a doctor first. Certain (OTC) medicines might also interact with it. Some doctors suggest that it can reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. However, research doesn’t generally support this. Nonetheless, people who experience diarrhea and vomiting or are not taking their oral contraceptive during illness due to an upset stomach might find that its effectiveness reduces. In these circumstances, doctors may recommend people take additional contraceptive precautions. Doctors may also advise avoiding alcohol for certain drugs, such as doxycycline. However, drinking alcohol in moderation is unlikely to cause problems with the most commonly used alcohol.

How Antibiotics Use:

Doctors and the leaflet provided with the drug provide specific instructions on how to take the medication correctly. People can follow some tips for using it effectively such as:

  • Avoiding alcohol when using metronidazole
  • Avoiding dairy products when taking tetracyclines, as these might disrupt the absorption of the medication.
  • Taking the medication at the same time or at set times in the day this depends on how many times a day a person needs to take the drug.

Antibiotics and Eczema: is there a Link?

Eczema is a chronic inflammatory condition. It results from a combination of genetic, immune and environmental factors. The immune system overreacts to environmental irritants and allergens in people with eczema. Given the role of inflammation in eczema, factors that affect the development of the immune system in early childhood including the use of it have been of particular interest to experts. This article examines how it can affect the developing immune system and how this might influence a person’s risk of eczema in the future.

How can Antibiotics affect the Microbiome and Immune System?

The microbiome is the collection of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that live in and on the body. It includes bacteria in the gut as well as those on the skin. A well balanced micro biome provides a variety of health benefits by:

  • Supporting digestion
  • Providing essential vitamins and amino acids
  • Preventing the overgrowth of harmful microbes
  • Stimulating the development of the immune system

The microbiome helps support immune development by training the immune system to distinguish the disease causing microbes that can cause health conditions from the beneficial ones that support human health. Antibiotics use for example can disrupt essential interactions between the microbiome and the immune system by killing healthy bacteria in the gut and on the skin. In turn this leads to the development of abnormal immune responses. As a result the immune system reacts to the normal microflora of the gut or skin leading to chronic inflammation.

How can Antibiotics use Increase the Risk of Eczema?

The researchers have linked exposure to it to inflammation that contributes to a variety of health conditions including allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Exposure in the first 2 year of life:

Overall most studies suggest an association between its use and eczema. According to a 2017 analysis of 34 clinical studies spanning the last 6 decades children exposed to it within the first 2 years of life were 26% more likely to develop eczema than those without exposure.

Exposure in the first year of life:

A 2021 study involving more than 700,000 children from Sweden found that children exposed to it during the first year of life were 52% more likely to develop eczema than other children.

Exposure during pregnancy:

Not all studies have seen the same association between eczema and its use. Others suggest there may be more to the relationship for example some studies suggest the timing of its use may be important. A 2019 review looked at seven studies that examined its exposure during specific intervals throughout pregnancy. Researchers found that although prenatal exposure did increase the likelihood of developing eczema, its use during the third trimester didn’t affect eczema risk.

Genetics of Antibiotics:

Underlying genetics or familial factors likely play a role as well. Many studies that have identified a relationship between its use and eczema have found that this relationship becomes attenuated or completely lost in sibling pairs. These findings suggest there may be one more underlying factor that affects several family members and increases the likelihood of both eczema and infections that require it. Genetics are likely to play a role in moderating this dual effect. A 2021 study found that among nearly 600 children in China those with a genetic mutation in an immune related gene were over three times more likely to develop eczema after its use than those without the mutation. Therefore an increased risk of eczema may not be a direct result of its use but the result of some trigger that also increases the risk of infections.


What are the main antibiotics?

State-level rates of penicillin’s, macrolides, cephalosporins, and fluoroquinolones are displayed. Also displayed are all antibiotic classes, which include these four classes plus additional classes not available for release at the state level.

What are the top 10 antibiotics?

  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Clindamycin
  • Erythromycin
  • Metronidazole
  • Benzylpenicillin
  • Sulfamethoxazole
  • Tetracycline
  • Gentamicin
  • Ertapenem
  • Cephalexin

Are antibiotics side effects?

Common side effects of it can include rash, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, or yeast infections. More serious side effects include Clostridium difficile infection (also called C difficile or C.

Are antibiotics safe?

Most antibiotics don’t cause problems if they’re used properly and serious side effects are rare. The common side effects include being sick.

What is antibiotics and its function?

Antibiotics are medicines that fight infections caused by bacteria in humans and animals by either killing the bacteria or making it difficult for the bacteria to grow and multiply.

Which antibiotics are the best for fever?

There are many effective antibiotics available for treating fever in India. Azithromycin, Ofloxacin, Cefixime and their combinations are some of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for treating bacterial infections that cause fever.

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