Antibiotics, also known as antibacterials, are medications that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria.
They include a range of powerful drugs and are used to treat diseases caused by bacteria.
Antibiotics cannot treat viral infections, such as cold, flu, and most coughs.
This article will explain what antibiotics are, how they work, any potential side effects, and antibiotic resistance.
Fast facts on antibiotics
- Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the first natural antibiotic, in 1928.
- Antibiotics cannot fight viral infections.
- Fleming predicted the rise of antibiotic resistance.
- Antibiotics either kill or slow the growth of bacteria.
- Side effects can include diarrhea, an upset stomach, and nausea.
Antibiotics are a common medication that doctors prescribe to fight bacteria.
Antibiotics are powerful medicines that fight certain infections and can save lives when used properly. They either stop bacteria from reproducing or destroy them.
Before bacteria can multiply and cause symptoms, the immune system can typically kill them. White blood cells (WBCs) attack harmful bacteria and, even if symptoms do occur, the immune system can usually cope and fight off the infection.
Sometimes, however, the number of harmful bacteria is excessive, and the immune system cannot fight them all. Antibiotics are useful in this scenario.
The first antibiotic was penicillin. Penicillin-based antibiotics, such as ampicillin, amoxicillin, and penicillin G, are still available to treat a variety of infections and have been around for a long time.
Several types of modern antibiotics are available, and they are usually only available with a prescription in most countries. Topical antibiotics are available in over-the-counter (OTC) creams and ointments.