What Should I Know about Taking Antibiotics?
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You should know the facts about antibiotics before taking even one
It would be hard to imagine our modern medical environment without the use of antibiotics which, in this case, pertain to synthetic chemicals produced by humankind and are generally used for therapeutic purposes.
But what should the average person know about antibiotics before taking them? Perhaps this article will tell you much of what you need to know, that is, without asking a doctor or nurse, which would probably cost you money. So please keep reading!
Short History of Antibiotics
People have been ingesting antibiotic or antibacterial substances for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans may have been the first to recognize the medicinal properties of antibiotics, though of course the germ theory of disease wasn’t presented until the late 1800s. By the way, antibiotics are drugs or medicine that destroy and/or inhibit the growth of bacteria, which can make a person sick or even cause death.
Biologist Alexander Fleming discovered in 1928 that the mold Penicillium contained a substance he called penicillin, which has antibiotic properties. But the first antibiotics weren’t developed until 1932, when Prontosil, a sulfonamide or sulfa drug, was made widely available just in time for use during World War Two. However, penicillin proved to be a much more effective antibiotic than Prontosil, essentially revolutionizing the use of such drugs in the field of medicine.
Interestingly, Alexander Fleming won the Nobel Prize in 1945 for his part in discovering and developing penicillin.
Nowadays, there are over 100 different kinds of antibiotics, including the various “penicillins” such as amoxicillin and penicillin G (a.k.a. Pfizerpen), and there are various sulfa drugs too, as well as many antibiotics most people have probably never heard of. However, many of these drugs have never been produced commercially or their usage has been discontinued.
Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics
Since the 1950s, because of natural evolutionary processes, many bacteria have become resistant to the use of antibiotics. Drugs such penicillin and erythromycin, for example, have lost much of their effectiveness and their usage has for that reason been largely discontinued.
For instance, tuberculosis or TB, once easily treated with antibiotics, has become difficult if not impossible to treat because strains of the disease have become “super bugs” or multiple-drug-resistant tuberculosis. Now effective treatment of the disease with antibiotics can take months, and if the patient misses a dose or two, he or she may have to re-start this type of chemotherapy from the beginning!
Therefore, people are advised to use antibiotics only when needed. Paul L. Marion, author of The ICU Book, meaning the book for the Intensive Care Unit, has warned everyone:
The first rule of antibiotics is try not to use them, and the second rule is try not to use too many of them.
Keeping this dictum in mind, since antibiotics are only effective fighting bacteria, do not use antibiotics to fight viral or fungal infections or diseases. Many colds, throat infections and influenza are caused by viruses, for instance. Then again, there is strep throat, which is caused by a bacterium. So know your enemy before you begin taking antibiotics!
How to Take Antibiotics
Needless to say, antibiotics should be taken as directed by a doctor or other medical practitioner. Generally, antibiotics can be taken with or without food. According to an article in WebMD, you should only take the amount prescribed by a doctor and always take the entire prescription. Never stop taking antibiotics because you feel better, for some bacteria may survive days after beginning treatment. Simply put, you need to wipe them out once and for all!
Antibiotics and Alcohol
It is widely assumed that people shouldn’t imbibe in alcohol while taking antibiotics, but most common antibiotics can be taken with alcohol without reducing effectiveness or causing adverse side-effects. However, taking antibiotics such as metronidazole or cefmenoxime with alcohol can cause side-effects such as vomiting, nausea and shortness of breath, and the effectiveness of these “uncommon” antibiotics may be reduced accordingly as well.
So, when taking uncommon antibiotics such as the aforementioned, avoid the use of alcohol.
Natural vs. Synthetic Antibiotics
Some people prefer to fight bacterial infections using natural antibiotics such as grapefruit seed extract, echinacea, garlic or honey. As this strategy is certainly less expensive than obtaining a doctor’s prescription, conventional antibiotics may be somewhat, if not much stronger than natural ones. Conventional antibiotics may be able to stop bacteria from multiplying as well; otherwise, you could take the natural ones for weeks or months and not stop the infection permanently.
You should feel fortunate the modern medical world has antibiotics to treat infections and diseases that could otherwise cause disfigurement, disability or even death. But if you think you need to use antibiotics, you should probably consult a doctor first. Taking natural antibiotics is a cost effective option, but proceed with great care and caution if you decide to do so.
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