Health A to Z

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are for treating or preventing certain types of bacterial infections. They kill the bacteria or prevent them from spreading, but antibiotics don’t work for everything. Several mild bacterial infections don’t require antibiotics and get better independently. 

Antibiotics don’t work on viral infections like flu, colds, coughs, and sore throats, and they are no longer used to treat:

  • Chest infections 
  • Ear infections in children 
  • Sore throats

Take your doctor’s advice on antibiotics since resistance can be a big problem, and avoiding them can mean they will not work correctly for you in the future.

 

When are antibiotics needed?

Bacterial infections that:

  • Are less likely to cure without antibiotics 
  • Can infect others
  • Can take too long to heal without treatments e
  • Can carry risks of severe complications 

People at high risk of infections may also require antibiotics as a precaution, known as antibiotic prophylaxis.

Antibiotics side effects

Similar to many medications, antibiotics can also cause side effects. Most antibiotics don’t cause any problems if they are correctly used. Severe side effects are rare, but some common side effects are:

When are antibiotics needed?

Some might have an allergic reaction to antibiotics, especially to cephalosporins (a type of penicillin). In rare instances, they can lead to severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis, which requires immediate medical attention. 

Antibiotic consumption procedure

Take antibiotics as your doctor’s suggestion, and they can come as:

  • Capsules, tablets, or a drinking liquid (these are usually for moderate body infections)
  • Spray, lotions, creams, or drops (these are generally for skin, eye, or ear infections)
  • Injections are for severe infections

If you forget a dose of antibiotic, consume it as soon as you remember, then continue the course as normal. But if it’s time for the next dose, don’t hesitate to skip the missed one. 

Don’t take a double dose to make up for one missed dose. Taking double doses can increase the risks of side effects and cause severe harm.

Antibiotic types

There are multiple antibiotics, but most of them come under the following six groups:

    • Penicillins 
    • Cephalosporins 
    • Aminoglycosides 
    • Tetracyclines 
    • Macrolides 
    • Fluoroquinolones 

Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022