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Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Updated on May 20, 2018
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Doctor Visit


Role of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are prescribed to fight infections from bacteria and they actually work in two different ways. They help your body fight bacteria by directly killing the bacteria, or they weaken the bacteria enough that your body can eliminate the bacteria by using your immune system. Antibiotics have been over prescribed to the point that antibiotic resistance to bacteria is a common problem.

Quite often a patient will see their doctor and ask for an antibiotic when they actually have a virus. Antibiotics do not treat viruses. Doctors sometimes give in to the pressure from the patient, or they prescribe an antibiotic to a patient that is ill without really having a culture to know what bacteria is causing the problem. In that case, the antibiotic may not treat the infection and a second antibiotic will be prescribed when a culture is done to treat the bacteria causing the problem.

Bacteria versus Viruses

Bacteria can live independently in our bodies, so they are easier to kill than viruses most of the time. Viruses need a host, which is your body, to live and there are not many medications available to kill viruses. Approximately 2,000,000 get antibiotic resistant infections annually, and 23,000 die.

Antibiotics must be prescribed by a physician. Each year we find more powerful antibiotics on the market because the independent bacteria have the ability to mutate and become antibiotic resistant bacteria. There are literally trillions of types of bacteria on this earth.

Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria

Scientist found a new bacteria, which is antibiotic resistant. CRE, which stands for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae is the new drug resistant bacteria and MERSA is another difficult bacteria also.

I am acutely aware of this problem as I have two drug resistant bacteria living in my lungs. When you have a disease such as lupus, you are typically taking immune suppression medications. These medications compromise your immune system, so it is unable to kill the bacteria effectively.

After developing lung disease two years ago (I never smoked), I got one bacterial infection, which did respond to antibiotics initially. The bacteria keep returning, as it has the capacity to lie dormant in your body for a period of time, and then flares up again. Gradually when you take antibiotics over a long period of time, the bacteria becomes more resistant. Then, the prescribed antibiotics become stronger and more side effects can develop. This is what has happened to our society as a whole.

People often run to the doctor demanding an antibiotic when they are sick, and the doctors are very conscious of our litigious society. Often they won’t take chances, so they prescribe an antibiotic when some extra Vitamin C, chicken soup and bed rest might have sufficed.

The end result is antibiotic resistance bacteria. Also, we have newer types of bacteria, such as MRSA, which was unheard of until 1960 in the United States. As an RN, the first time I remember MRSA becoming a problem in the hospital was 1987.

Common Side Effects to Antibiotics

A vaginal yeast infection is a common occurrence for women on antibiotics. The reason is antibiotics kill not only the invading bacteria, but also the good bacteria in our bodies, so a yeast infection or constipation is common.

It is possible to ward off some of these problems by taking Probiotics when you are on an antibiotic. Probiotics can be purchased over the counter at drug, grocery or health food stores. Probiotics are live microorganisms that help balance your body’s immune system. Eating yogurt can also be helpful. These two items help replace some of the good bacteria lost when we are taking antibiotics.

Allergic Reactions to Antibiotics

If you have a severe allergic reaction to any medication a number or symptoms might occur based on the severity of the reaction.

These are symptoms of an allergic reaction which you should know:

  • Hives
  • Rash or blistered, swollen red skin
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe or persistent cough
  • Swelling in the area of the mouth, face, lips, tongue
  • Stomach cramps, tar colored or bloody stools
  • Chest pain
  • Unusual hoarseness
  • Chills
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Confusion, hallucinations, depression
  • Decreased urination or dark urine
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Unusual bruising
  • Severe headache
  • Weakness
  • Unusually pale skin
  • Vaginal irritation or discharge
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes

These symptoms warrant immediate medical intervention. The more acute symptoms can lead to anaphylactic shock and death. If you have the more severe allergic reactions listed above, call 911. An allergic reaction is much more serious than a side effect from an antibiotic.

Staphylococus aureus Bacteria

Wickipedia - Bacteria under Microscipe
Wickipedia - Bacteria under Microscipe

Major Types of Antibiotics

Pencillins and Cephalosporins are very commonly used. Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming in the early 20th century. These antibiotics are usually well tolerated with few side effects. Diarrhea is the most common, but some people do have allergic reactions.

Macrolides include Erythromycin, azithromycin and clarithromycinare also commonly prescribed for bronchitis, Chlamydia and whooping cough. They must be taken with food to prevent stomach ulcers. They seldom produce an allergic reaction but there are some possible side effects, such severe dizziness, stomach upsets, diarrhea, vomiting, hearing problems and skin reactions are the most common. However, they are usually well tolerated.

Other Types of Antiobics

Sulfa antibiotics more commonly produce an allergic reaction. They are not used as often now, as they don’t treat many types of bacteria. Bactrim is a suflanomide and can have numerous side effects and common allergic reactions.

Nitrofurantoin or Macrodantin is a drug to treat urinary tract infections (UTI’s). They may have side effects, like an upset stomach, diarrhea, gas and loss of appetite, but are very effective in treating UTI’s.

Aminoglycosides attack bacteria in a different way and are sometimes prescribed along with penicillin or Cephalosporins. They break down easily in the stomach, so they are often given via intravenously. They are, however, used in eye drops to treat pink eye. When they are received IV they can cause ear or liver damage. Therefore, they are usually given for only a short period of time.

Quinolones, better known as Cipro, interferes with the DNA enzyme of the bacteria. They treat several types of infections but can damage cartilage, so they are seldom prescribed for children. They typically have few side effects, unless you are allergic.

Fungal, Yeast or Virus Infection Treatments

Tetracycline treats sexually transmitted diseases for adults. They affect the development of tooth enamel and bones in children, so they are not given to children under 8 years of age. This antibiotic is the most effect treatment of cholera and anthrax.

Antifungals, such as fluconazole, treat Candida. Side effects are rare unless you are allergic.

Acyckivur is an antiviral drug that treats chicken pox, shingles and the herpes virus. They never totally eradicate the virus, but it causes it to go dormant. Possible side effects include low back pain, urinating less, easy bruising and unusual weakness.

In Conclusion

If you have even a small allergic reaction to an antibiotic, make sure your doctor and your pharmacy is aware of this information. If you take the antibiotic a second time it is likely your allergic reaction will be more severe.

Buy a medical ID bracelet to wear if you have a penicillin or sulfa allergy in case you are hurt and cannot give someone your medical information. They make bracelets especially for children as well.

Antibiotics are used to treat bacteria, so viruses are not really in this category. All antibiotics may have some side effects, with some being more serious than others. A serious disease, like pneumonia, for example, really needs to be treated with an antibiotic as this disease has the potential to kill the patient. The risk of the disease versus the risk of side effects from an antibiotic must be weighed. As a society we should do everything possible to prevent antibiotic resistance.

The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    15 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peggy,

    I agree about the importance of finishing a prescribed antibiotic as you are right. Some people start feeling better and just stop taking the medication.

    I think penicillin was kind of a wonder drug at the time. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and commenting.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    15 months ago from Houston, Texas

    If taking an antibiotic, it is also important to finish taking the entire prescribed dose. Otherwise, the bacteria are not entirely killed and may emerge stronger than ever.

    I lost a grandfather to pneumonia before the invention of penicillin. It was considered to be a wonder drug at that time.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Easy Exercise, I know many people who use probiotics routinely, but especially when they are on antibiotics. Thank you for your comments.

  • Easy Exercise profile image

    Kelly A Burnett 

    7 years ago from United States

    I am looking forward to the day when the medical community recognizes the value of ozonated water for killing MRSA and other harmful bacteria. This is a field where we all could use more education and training. The difference between a virus and bacteria infection I found most helpful.

    I wish to learn more about probiotics. Fascinating information you provided here. Thank you very much! Voted up!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    pstraubie, Many people have are allergic just like you. I am so sorry to hear about you grandson. I hope he gets well. I do think people don't understand the seriousness of all these resistant infection. Thanks for sharing your comments.

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 

    8 years ago from North Central Florida

    Good afternoon, Pamela

    This is information that I hope many take the time to read. When my grandson was a young baby and since, he has been ill. He had many many infections. He was given so many antibiotics that he became resistant to them and they were running out of meds that would work .. a pretty scary thought. He has cancer and has been fighting all of these years..he is seventeen now. I am allergic to penicillin myself plus many other meds. When they ask me what I am allergic to it is easier to say what I am not allergic to..hee hee.

    So glad you shared this...

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    vims, I agree as antibiotics kill not only the invading bacteria but also some natural bacteria that we have in our bodies. I appreciate your comments.

  • vims003 profile image

    Vimesh Ummer.U 

    9 years ago from india

    hi mam its really interesting hub about antibiotics.its true nowadays all are going for antibiotics.i think antibiotic may decrease our natural resisting power.its unbelievable that you have undergone a serious lungs problem.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    RTalloni, The infection information has certainly been made public but people are still uninformed. The teddy bear is a good example. Stores typically have wipes so customers can wipe off the buggy handle, but how many people do you see do that? Hand washing is still the best prevention of disease, and I could go on. Thanks so much for you well thought out comment and hopefully we will spread the word.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    It is so important to learn all we can about antibiotics. How much more wrong could scientists/docs have been in the 1950s to state that antibiotics would end disease!

    Not long ago I was in a hospital waiting with a friend on her husband's surgery. A toddler was being pulled in a wagon by his young father. The baby was dragging his teddy bear on the floor as the wagon rolled along.

    Smiles led to conversation and I discovered that the toddler couldn't go home as scheduled after his tonsillectomy because he had developed a fever.

    I looked at the teddy bear, the child, and the father in amazement, knowing that MRSA and C-dff and other infections are floating around the walls and floors of our modern hospitals. Who was I to say anything with all the medical personnel running around there.

    I've wondered what became of that child, and I wondering how I could know this but they did not made me wonder if people don't listen to the warnings, or if they don't believe them.

    The most important teachers of the information people need to protect themselves from bacterial infections and the antibiotics that treat them may come from nurses. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Good hubs generate good comments. This will be worth following.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    I couldn't agree with you more about the overuse of antibiotics. I have done genealogy research for years and many people lived to a ripe old age without antibiotics, but they were eating what they grew on farms also. Thanks for your comments.

  • nancynurse profile image

    Nancy McClintock 

    9 years ago from Southeast USA

    Pamela this is so well written. I have seen the same things you have in the hospital. I remember when we could actually touch our patients without "gloving up". You have really hit many of the high points in the problem of our society with antibiotic abuse. I know people that can not stay away from the doctor if they have any symptom at all. Nothing seems to be allowed to run it's course anymore and as we both know antibiotics are a sugar pill for virus. So sorry to hear about your lung disease. Great hub

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Sunshine, I am in the same boat as you having taken too many antibiotics. t sounds like you made a good decision about the Zithromax. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Sunshine625 profile image

    Linda Bilyeu 

    9 years ago from Orlando, FL

    Excellent hub Pamela! So many people run to the doctor and demand an antibiotic for a cold and the docs give them a script. I have taken way to many antibiotics over my lifetime for sinus and bronchial issues. In the past few years I wait as long as possible and try home remedies before I take an antibiotic.

    I'm allergic to penicillin so that drug is off of my list.

    I recently heard about the new Zithromax scare. Not to be taken by patients with heart disease. The Z-Pak was my drug of choice. I don't have heart disease, but I think I will still pass on that drug. I'm glad you wrote this will help many!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    molometer, I'm glad you found this information helpful and I appreciate your comments.

  • molometer profile image


    9 years ago from United Kingdom

    Thanks Pamela,

    This is a really useful resource for us all. Well done.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    lord de cross, Love your sense of humor. I wonder about the same things your do and appreciate your comments. Thanks.

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 

    9 years ago from New York

    Useful and interesting...and, awesomely laid out! Seems like a gift-hub, wrapped up with care for us. Lol! I see this caveman trying to figure this out the hub, and just threw away our laptop. Ouch! Jokes aside. I wonder what will take to find a better complex multi-shot? Seems that pharmaceutical corporations are working on raking the most money from us (along with our FDA?). In the end greed never pays. Great article and very useful, except for this homo sapiens that pulled the laptop from us again....!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    I am sorry to hear about your wife and hope she will soon be on the mend. I appreciate your comments.

  • molometer profile image


    9 years ago from United Kingdom

    Fascinating read Pamela,

    my wife has had some of these symptoms from being on chemotherapy. Her immune systems resistance is shot to pieces.

    We try to avoid people and places where we may come into contact with colds and flu, as it really hits her hard.

    Antibiotic are of limited help to her.

    This was a very informative read thanks for sharing.

    Voted up 3/5 buttons and sharing.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Teaches, I'm glad the hub was helpful in clarifying that fact. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Dr. Chan, I think that is a good question. It seems there is plenty of blame to go around. The doctors should still follow their creed, of "do no harm". Thank for your comment,

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    9 years ago

    This is good information to know on the use of antibiotics and their possible allergic reactions. Your description of bacteria and viruses helps in understanding how they combat disease/illness. Voted up.

  • dr stephen chan profile image

    dr stephen chan 

    9 years ago from U.S.A

    How much of the blame falls on pharmaceutical companies and the kickbacks they offer doctors to prescribe their product?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    drbj, That was the goal for writing this hub, to hopefully give people some new information about potentially serious problems. Thanks for your comments.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    9 years ago from south Florida

    Very thorough hub, Pamela, with much needed information about various antibiotics as well as their potential contraindications.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    anginwu, Those allergic reactions can be serious. Thanks for sharing your experience and your comments.

  • anglnwu profile image


    9 years ago

    This is so informative--thanks for making the difference between bacteria and viruses so clear. I once had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic and I remember the experience clearly--rash so itchy and red, I couldn't sleep at all. I had to go to the doctor before it went away. Thanks for sharing--so nicely done.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    It's nice to see you Tom, and I think you are spot on. Thank you for your excellent observations.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    I agree with you and have quit eating most meats and if I eat chicken I buy the natural, organic variety. We actually have well water which doesn't taste great, but I think we are better off. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Tom Whitworth profile image

    Tom Whitworth 

    9 years ago from Moundsville, WV


    Thanks for the very informative hub. Antibiotic resistance seems as though it was permitted to developed to today's state after we were warned of its onset.

  • JCielo profile image


    9 years ago from England

    I truly believe that much of the ailments people complain of nowadays can be traced to fungal infections in the digestive tract, which arise because of depleted friendly bacteria due to antibiotics overuse.

    In addition, I am concerned that we are unkowingly consuming antibiotics on a daily basis through water supplies and farmed foods.

    Fabulous hub. Marked up, interesting and useful.


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