Antibiotics are medicines that can kill bacteria. Infections that we get can cause us to be very ill. To rid our bodies of the bacteria that make us sick, doctors prescribe antibiotics. Common infections that bacteria cause are those found in strep throat, ear infections, urinary tract infections, and also sinus infections.

Antibiotics are not the cure all medicines that some individuals think that they are. Antibiotics can do nothing for illnesses caused by viruses. Illness such as colds, flu, acute bronchitis, sore throats not associated with strep are all viruses. Viruses can make you feel very ill, but will go away by themselves.

Not for Use on Viruses

Antibiotics should not be used to treat viruses. When antibiotics are taken for viruses, you are contributing to the possibility of increasing antibiotic-resistant bacteria and taking antibiotics when you really do not need them will not make you feel any better or make the viruses go away any sooner.

Antibiotics have common side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, and also stomach pain. These side effects will still happen even if you take them for viruses in which you will not feel any relief.

Make sure that if your doctor prescribes an antibiotic for you or a family member that you ask the doctor if the antibiotic is the only option and if it is really necessary.

Never use an antibiotic that has been prescribed for someone else.

Typical Antibiotics

Some common antibiotics that are prescribed for children are Amoxicillin which is usually prescribed for middle ear infections, Cefprozil, which is usually prescribed for upper respiratory infections, cephalexin which is used to treat skin and soft tissue infections such as impetigo, and Penicillin V, used to treat strep throat and also some skin infections.

Antibiotics come in different forms such as pills, shots, drops, gels, and also lotions. Antibiotics work best when you take them as prescribed and for as long as your doctor has prescribed for you to take them. You should never use leftover antibiotics.

Sometimes antibiotics are prescribed to prevent infections. They are used in preterm labor to prevent infection. Antibiotics are often used before dental procedure to prevent infection.

Topical antibiotics are used to prevent bacterial infections in minor cuts. Topical antibiotics are also used to prevent infection in surgical incision sites. Topical antibiotics may have side effects such as a rash, sweating, a tightness or discomfort in the chest regions, breathing problems, feeling dizzy, nausea, diarrhea or a ringing in the ears.

Antibiotics are very useful medications as long as they are not abused.

They are often given intravenously during surgery or they may be given orally after surgery to prevent infection.

Image: Mol. Biophysics, Oxford Univ., Wellcome Images

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