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What You Should Know About Antibiotics?

We all fall ill, and doctors prescribe our medicine along with some antibiotics. Do you ever wonder what an antibiotic is? 

Well, antibiotics help our body fight off certain harmful bacteria when we alone cannot protect ourselves against these pathogens. We will understand it in detail, but let’s first shed some light on the history of antibiotics.

The first antibiotic – “Penicillin” – was created in 1982 by Alexander Flemming. The drug was quite effective in treating malaria back in those days. Hence, penicillin-based drugs such as amoxicillin, ampicillin etc., are still available in the medicine market. Usually, medical drugs are prescribed by doctors. However, many topical antibiotics are still available Over-The-Counter (OTC). 

What are Antibiotics? 

Antibiotics are powerful drugs that can cure certain bacterial diseases. These drugs can save lives by stopping bacterial growth and destroying them. 

In a human body, usually, when a foreign body enters to attack, the immune system (usually the white blood cells) kills them even before they can multiply. However, in some cases, the number of harmful bacteria is too much, and the immune system can’t wipe them off. This is where antibiotics come in. 

How Do Antibiotics Work?

Antibiotics have their way of working in the human body, depending on their type. However, we have categorised two significant ways how they work:

  • First, antibacterial antibiotics such as penicillin usually interfere with bacterial cell wall formation or cell content.
  • Second, they stop the multiplication of the cell by destroying them. 

Once you have taken the antibiotic, it would take 30 min to an hour to feel better.

How to Use Antibiotics?

Doctors can inject antibiotics into your body, but in typical cases, people intake antibiotics in the form of capsules, tablets, or pills. Though you might feel better after a few hours of taking antibiotics, doctors always advise you to continue taking them and complete the prescribed course of medication. This is mainly because if the medication course remains incomplete, the infection will stay, and that might lead to another severe ailment. 

A few tips for people who are on prescribed antibiotics are:

  • Avoid dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt, paneer, milk, etc.
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy drinks.
  • Taking medicines as per the prescribed time and duration. 

What are the Side Effects of Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are associated with many side effects. Some of them are listed below:

  • Rash
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Nausea
  • Fungal infection in the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina

There are some unusual side effects if these are used excessively or without proper prescriptions:

  • Low platelet counts (when taking penicillin or cephalosporins) 
  • Low WBC (granulocyte) count (when taking penicillin)
  • Severe pain (when taking fluoroquinolones)
  • Kidney stones (when taking sulfonamides)
  • Loss of hearing (when taking macrolides)

In addition to the side effects mentioned above, some people may often experience bowel inflammation. Some may also develop allergic reactions, especially when taking penicillin. Some of the allergic reactions are as follows:

  • Difficult breathing
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • A rashed hive
  • Wheezing

So, if you face any of the conditions mentioned above, visit your doctor immediately. 

Are Antibiotics Safe?

Antibiotics are usually safe when prescribed by the doctor in administered doses, as these help us recover from several ailments. But, overuse of the drug can have severe consequences, which can be harmful. Also, antibiotics do not cure all diseases. 

Unprescribed or overuse of antibiotics can cause severe outcomes like:

  • It might cause life-threatening diarrhoea.
  • Antibiotics may also react negatively with other drugs you are taking.
  • Most children under 18 years are seen in the medical emergency room because of an overdose of antibiotics. 

Hence, when you are taking antibiotics without consulting a doctor, you are making yourself vulnerable to all the adverse outcomes it can have. It can also lead to antibiotic resistance, where the harmful pathogen (bacteria) cannot be treated with an antibiotic.  


If you have doubts about taking antibiotics, consult your doctor. Not all infections require antibiotics. So, if your doctor prescribes one, you are good to go. Else, it is better not to take them at all.

Dr. Alok Prasad

Consultant – Internal Medicine

Metro Heart Institute with Multispecialty Faridabad

For More visit : https://www.metrohospitalfaridabad.com/doctor/dr-alok-prasad/