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This means that the antibiotic becomes less effective against that type of bacterium, as the bacterium has been able to improve its defenses. A doctor can prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic to treat a wide range of infections. A narrow-spectrum antibiotic is only effective against a few types of bacteria.

Some antibiotics attack aerobic bacteria, while others work against anaerobic bacteria. Aerobic bacteria need oxygen and anaerobic bacteria do not. In some cases, a healthcare professional may provide antibiotics to prevent rather than treat an infection, as might be the case before surgery. This is the 'prophylactic' use of antibiotics. People commonly use these antibiotics before bowel and orthopedic surgery. Some people, especially older adults, may experience bowel inflammation , which can lead to severe, bloody diarrhea.

In less common instances, penicillins, cephalosporins, and erythromycin can also cause inflamed bowels. Some people may develop an allergic reaction to antibiotics, especially penicillins. Side effects might include a rash, swelling of the tongue and face, and difficulty breathing. Allergic reactions to antibiotics might be immediate or delayed hypersensitivity reactions. Anyone who has an allergic reaction to an antibiotic must tell their doctor or pharmacist.

Antibiotics and You

Reactions to antibiotics can be serious and sometimes fatal. They are called anaphylactic reactions. People with reduced liver or kidney function should be cautious when using antibiotics. This may affect the types of antibiotics they can use or the dose they receive.

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Likewise, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should speak with a doctor about the best antibiotics to take. Individuals taking an antibiotic should not take other medicines or herbal remedies without speaking with a doctor first.

Be Antibiotics Aware: Smart Use, Best Care

Certain OTC medicines might also interact with antibiotics. Some doctors suggest that antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. However, research does not generally support this. Nonetheless, people who experience diarrhea and vomiting or are not taking their oral contraceptive during illness because of an upset stomach might find that its effectiveness reduces.

People usually take antibiotics by mouth. However, doctors can administer them by injection or apply them directly to the part of the body with infection. Most antibiotics start combating infection within a few hours. Complete the whole course of medication to prevent the return of the infection.

Stopping the medication before the course has finished increases the risk that the bacteria will become resistant to future treatments. The ones that survive will have had some exposure to the antibiotic and may consequently develop resistance to it.

Antibiotics: List of Common Antibiotics & Types -

An individual needs to complete the course of antibiotic treatment even after they see an improvement in symptoms. Do not take some antibiotics with certain foods and drinks. Take others on an empty stomach, about an hour before meals, or 2 hours after. Follow the instructions correctly for the medication to be effective. People taking metronidazole should not drink alcohol.

When antibiotics are used

Avoid dairy products when taking tetracyclines, as these might disrupt the absorption of the medication. There are several different types of bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotics that have been the most effective against them. Some examples include:. When one of these bacteria causes an infection, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to cure. Article last updated by Adam Felman on Fri 18 January All references are available in the References tab.

CDC's antibiotic resistance patient safety atlas.

Antibiotics: Are you misusing them?

Evans, B. The rise of carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii.

When To Use Antibiotics

Current Pharmaceutical Design. Krasner, R. Summary of the latest data on antibiotic resistance in the European Union. Respiratory tract infections. Simmons, K. Drug interactions between non-rifamycin antibiotics and hormonal contraception: a systematic review. The bacterial challenge: time to react. Thong, B. Update on the management of antibiotic allergy. MLA Nordqvist, Christian. MediLexicon, Intl. APA Nordqvist, C. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media. Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

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Reviewed by Alan Carter, PharmD. In cooperation with other government agencies, the Food and Drug Administration FDA has launched several initiatives to address antibiotic resistance.

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The agency has issued drug labeling regulations, emphasizing the prudent use of antibiotics. The regulations encourage health care professionals to prescribe antibiotics only when clinically necessary, and to counsel patients about the proper use of such drugs and the importance of taking them as directed.

FDA has also encouraged the development of new drugs, vaccines, and improved tests for infectious diseases. Antibiotics are meant to be used against bacterial infections. For example, they are used to treat strep throat, which is caused by streptococcal bacteria, and skin infections caused by staphylococcal bacteria. Although antibiotics kill bacteria, they are not effective against viruses. Therefore, they will not be effective against viral infections such as colds, most coughs, many types of sore throat, and influenza flu.

Patients and health care professionals alike can play an important role in combating antibiotic resistance. Patients should not demand antibiotics when a health care professional says the drugs are not needed. Health care professionals should prescribe antibiotics only for infections they believe to be caused by bacteria.

As a patient, your best approach is to ask your health care professional whether an antibiotic is likely to be effective for your condition. Also, ask what else you can do to relieve your symptoms. Joseph Toerner, M.