Infections can be caused by various invading organisms such as a viruses, fungus, parasite or bacteria. Medications, more specifically Antibiotics are the treatment of choice for bacterial infections. They are not effective to fight against viruses. They are utilized to cure common infections ranging from ear infections, pneumonia, urinary tract infections as well as skin infections. Common bacteria pathogens that cause these infections include strep, staph, H. flu and M. catt. There are a wide range of antibiotics that are utilized to combat the various bacterial infections.
Differentiation viral from bacterial infection is somewhat hard to do. Usually a virus will only last up to 72 hours, whereas a bacterial infection will continue past this point without any improvement. There are though, always exceptions to this rule such as with the young or elderly. Caution must always be taken with these two groups of people and also pregnant women when prescribing antibiotics. Certain classes of these medications are not utilized for children or those who may be pregnant.
There are several different classes of antibiotics such as: Penicillins, Cephalosporins, Macrolides, Tetracyclines, Sulfas, and Fluoroquinolones. These antibiotics have different ways in which they combat against bacterial infections. Antibiotics fight infections by killing the offending organism or stopping them from reproducing, allowing the body to ward off the bacteria. Antibiotics more specifically destroy invading bacteria with the intent of not harming the host by several different mechanisms such as: inhibiting formation of bacterial cell walls (Penicillins or Cephalosporins), or interrupting protein synthesis (Macrolides), or inhibiting bacterial metabolism (Sulfas), lastly interfering with DNA synthesis and cell membrane permeability (Fluoroquinolones).
Some antibiotics, such as Penicillin, are bactericidal meaning that they kill bacteria usually by interrupting the chemical processes that the bacteria use to make their cell walls. Other antibiotics, such as Macrolides, are bacteriostatic meaning that they stop bacteria from growing and multiplying.
Many antibiotics have lost their effectiveness over the years against common bacterial infections because of increasing drug resistance or naturally resistant to different classes of antibiotics. Inappropriate, unwarranted, overuse and prolonged use of antibiotics has resulted in the formation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Antibiotics are chosen based on the possible invading bacteria common to certain areas of the body. Antibiotics are only effective against certain bacteria. Narrow-spectrum antibiotics target particular types of bacteria, such as Gram-negative or Gram-positive bacteria, whereas broad-spectrum antibiotics have a wide range of bacteria that they attack without specificity.
Narrow Spectrum Antibiotics:
- Penicillins – Amoxil
- Cephalosporins – Keflex
- Macrolides – Erythromycin
- Tetracyclines – Doxycycline
Broad Spectrum Antibiotics:
- Penicillins – Augmentin
- Cephalosporins – Rocephin
- Macrolides – Azithromycin
- Fluoroquinolones – Levaquin
Specific groups of antibiotics are ideal for certain bacterial infections:
- Sulfonamides and doxycycline for skin – MRSA
- First generation cephalosporins for skin – MSSA
- Sulfonamides for UTI
- Tetracyclines for atypicals such as – CAP or MRSA
- Second generation macrolides – ideal for CAP
- Second generation fluoroquinolones – ideal for UTI
- Forth generation fluoroquinolone – great respiratory
If an infection is severe or the bacterial is not predictable a broad spectrum antibiotic may be started until testing can be done in order to choose a susceptible antibiotic. Common diagnostic test that may be done include blood test to look for elevated WBC, X-rays, a sputum sample, urine sample or wound samples.
Antibiotics may be given to certain people for preventative measures who have been exposed to a person with a communicable infection, artificial heart valves, immediately before an operation, or those people who have a weakened immune system.
As with any medication there are common side effects with therapy. Common side effects that may occur include: upset stomach and the possibility of a yeast infection. Antibiotics also having the possibility of causing adverse effects which are serious unwanted effects that warrant stopping the medication and seeking medical provider help if severe. Examples of adverse reactions are respiratory distress and severe rashes.
Antibiotic therapy is based on symptoms, likely bacterial cause and autoimmune concerns. Hepatic or renal impairment may warrant the need to use caution with certain antibiotics. Visit with your medical provider if you believe you may have a bacterial infection. Your provider may want to do an assessment and run test in order to determine if antibiotic therapy is indicated in your case.