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Antibiotics are drugs or medicines that are used to treat infections caused by bacteria and other organisms like parasites, protozoa, and fungi. There are a large number of infections that cannot be cured by simple medicines. It is in such infections which can also be life-threatening ones, strong medicines like antibiotics are used. They are available in tablets, powder, and injected forms

Types of Antibiotics

Antiobiotics are of two types:

  • Bacteriostatic: This type of antibiotic prevents bacteria from multiplying.
  • Bactericidal: This type of antibiotic kills bacteria.
For most infections, both the types are equally effective, but if the immune system is impaired or the individual has a severe infection, a bactericidal antibiotic is more helpful.

How do Antibiotics Work?

The work of antibiotics is rather simple: they kill bacteria or just prevent from its growing. The body's balance between health and illness is called homeostasis. Homeostasis basically depends on the relationship of the body to the bacteria with which it lives. When there are too many bacteria for the system to handle, illness occurs and antibiotics are needed to help restore homeostasis. It is believed that antibiotics interfere with the surface of bacteria cells, causing a change in their ability to reproduce. This prevents the growth of more bacteria. Different antibiotics kill bacteria in different ways. Some short-circuit the processes by which bacteria get energy, others disturb the structure of the bacterial cell wall, and still others interfere with the production of essential proteins.

Uses of Antibiotics: Infections Treated Using Antibiotics

Physicians and patients are using antibiotics to treat a large number of infections like as urinary tract infections, meningitis, tuberculosis, to prevent infections before, during, and after surgery etc.

What Cannot be Treated Using Antbiotics?

It is to be noted that antibiotics are used in treating infections, caused by bacteria, fungus, and various parasites. But antibiotics don't cure diseases caused by viruses. In recent years, health experts have noticed that antibiotics are becoming less and less effective as people use them more and more. This happens because of antibiotic resistance, a problem that develops when antibiotics are over-used or mis-used. Infections or diseases in which antibiotics should not be used are as follows:

  • Colds, Flu
  • Cough, bronchitis
  • Sore throat
  • Ear infections
  • sinus infections etc.
Important Guidelines

Everyone can help keep antibiotic resistance from becoming an even bigger problem than it already is. Here are some important guidelines:

  • Do not pressure a physician to prescribe an antibiotic for a cold or flu. Usually, such illnesses are due to a viral infection, which cannot be treated with an antibiotic. Taking an antibiotic when it is not needed will only encourage the spread of resistant bacteria in the body and in the community.
  • If a physician prescribes an antibiotic, do not be afraid to ask why the medicine is being prescribed. Make sure the physician has good reason to believe that the medicine will effectively treat the particular condition for which it is being prescribed.
  • When an antibiotic is appropriately prescribed, be sure to take all the medicine, for as long as directed. When a patient stops taking the medicine too soon, only the most vulnerable bacteria are killed, leaving the rest to thrive. Any illness caused by the remaining, resistant bacteria will then be harder to treat.
  • When you take antibiotics, you shouldn't interrupt the course.
Popular Antibiotics

Some 160 antibiotics are available. These include Tetracyclines, Aminoglycosides, Penicillins, Cephalosporins, Fluoroquinolones, Streptogramins, Sulfonamides, Macrolides, Erythromycins, Polypeptides etc.

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