What is an antibiotic? When and how is it used?


Scottish scientist Sir Alexander Fleming realized in 1928 that bacteria did not live where the green mold fungus, which is commonly found in bread, was present. The first antibiotic “penicillin”, called the “miracle drug”, was discovered in this way and purified by researchers and started to be used in treatment in the early 1940s. Today, antibiotics are obtained by biosynthesis or chemical synthesis using various microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.
Antibiotics are drugs that we generally use in the treatment of bacterial infections. There are antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections as well as cancer and fungal infections. They do not show any effect in cases such as flu, cold, sore throat or cough caused by viruses. When used correctly, they stop infection and save lives. When used badly or unnecessarily, they do more harm than good. Therefore, it is very important to know when to use antibiotics.
For an appropriate antibiotic treatment, the bacterium causing the infection, the characteristics of the patient and the expected effect of the drug should be known by the doctor. The most basic element of treatment is correct diagnosis. The sensitivity of the bacteria causing the infection to the given antibiotic is the key to drug selection in treatment. The choice of antibiotic to be applied in the treatment is made according to the sensitivity test. With this test, it is determined to which antibiotics the bacteria are sensitive (antibiogram). In cases where sensitivity testing cannot be performed, drug selection is made empirically. The doctor makes the choice of antibiotics based on clinical examination findings and experience. In some cases, such as meningitis, pneumonia, and gram-negative sepsis, early empirical treatment is life-saving. Clinically diagnosed infection may be due to a specific bacterium showing a predictable susceptibility pattern, or it may be due to non-specific bacterial species with more than one and resistant (resistant) strains. Antibiotics kill bacteria or stop their growth. In some cases, bacteria that grow stronger from the antibiotic develop resistance to the antibiotic and are not affected by the drug.
The doctor uses various laboratory tests to evaluate the presence of infection and its response to treatment. These tests gain value with the interpretation of the doctor. The state of the immune system, the site of infection and organ functions differ from patient to patient. The patient’s drug allergy, age, being pregnant or not, using other drugs, genetic or metabolic abnormality are important factors in antibiotic selection. Therefore, personalized treatment is very important.
In order for the selected antibiotic to have the expected effect, it must be taken for a sufficient time, at appropriate intervals and in sufficient doses. Excessive, random or prophylactic (preventive) use of antibiotics creates resistance to the drug in microorganisms, resulting in difficult-to-treat cases. Today, some bacteria have developed resistance to many antibiotics. We cannot completely stop the development of resistance, but we can prevent it by using it correctly. We can slow it down and stop its spread by personally not using antibiotics unnecessarily.
What should be done by the patient in the correct use of antibiotics:

Do not use antibiotics unnecessarily. Do not use antibiotics without asking your doctor if you have a cold or flu. The viruses that cause these diseases are not affected by antibiotics. In this case, the antibiotics you use unnecessarily kill the beneficial bacteria in the digestive system and prevent the formation and digestion of beneficial nutrients such as vitamin K and B12, paving the way for dangerous fungal infections.

Use the antibiotic as prescribed and for the time specified. Discontinuation of treatment before the expiry of the period leads to the formation of resistant bacteria.

Pay attention to your hunger/satiety status while taking oral (swallowing) medication. Some antibiotics are better absorbed when the stomach is empty. Fruit juice, milk or some other nutrients reduce their effects by preventing their absorption.

Do not use any other medicine together with antibiotics without asking your doctor. Some drugs such as antacids used in the treatment of ulcers and iron compounds used in the treatment of anemia significantly reduce the effect of antibiotics.

Inform your doctor if pain or swelling occurs at the injection site during treatment by injection. Antibiotics are irritants. They can cause dermal atrophy and swelling at the injection site or thrombophlebitis of the veins.

If you experience nausea, diarrhea or abdominal pain during treatment, let your doctor know and he or she will recommend alternative treatment.

In case of allergic reactions such as itching, hives or shortness of breath, stop the drug immediately and consult your doctor. Antibiotics can cause severe allergic reactions that result in death.

Contact your doctor if mouth sores, diarrhea or genital discharge occur during treatment. There may be secondary infection or resistance.

Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else or give someone else an antibiotic prescribed for you. The antibiotic treatment given is specific to you.

Do not store unpackaged or reconstituted antibiotic preparations for later use. Antibiotics that have passed their expiration date and are not stored under appropriate conditions deteriorate, their therapeutic effect disappears and may cause undesirable side effects.

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