The human body contains millions of bacteria, most of which are harmless and even necessary for your general health and well-being. Usually, white blood cells can neutralize any foreign bacteria that enter your system, and your immune system can kill bacteria before it has the opportunity to spread and cause symptoms. However, if your immune system needs help, doctors will commonly turn to antibiotics.
HOW DO ANTIBIOTICS WORK?
Specific mechanisms of action differ based on the antibiotic, but generally, antibiotics work by preventing bacteria from multiplying, killing bacteria outright, or inhibiting processes vital to bacteria. This weakens the infection, allowing your natural immune system to fight back. Antibiotics can be divided into two groups: (1) Broad spectrum antibiotics – These comprise antibiotics that can be used against a wide range of bacteria. Broad spectrum antibiotics include amoxicillin, tetracycline, and gentamicin. (2) Narrow spectrum antibiotics – These antibiotics can only affect specific families of bacteria. Narrow spectrum antibiotics include penicillin and ampicillin.
WHAT ARE ANTIBIOTICS USE FOR?
Antibiotics can only be used on bacterial infections. They cannot be used as treatment for fungal or viral infections, like the common cold, flu, stomach flu, and most sore throats. Your doctor may need to run tests to make sure that your infection is caused by bacteria before proceeding with treatment. Overusing antibiotics or using them when they are not necessary may create superbugs, or bacteria that grow resistant to conventional antibiotics, forcing doctors to prescribe more powerful antibiotics that may pose harsher side effects. Otherwise, antibiotics can generally be used for any infection or disease caused by bacteria, including: Urinary tract infections; Skin infections; Respiratory tract infections, like pneumonia and whooping cough; and Certain sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis
COMMON SIDE EFFECTS OF ANTIBIOTICS
Because your body is filled with bacteria, antibiotics have the potential to cause a variety of side effects. About 10 percent of people taking antibiotics may experience any of the following: Diarrhea, Vomiting, Nausea, Upset stomach and general digestion problems, or a fungal infection known as thrush, which can appear in the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina. Thankfully, the benefits of taking antibiotics far outweigh the risks. None of the above side effects are particularly serious and should subside quickly. Some patients are allergic to certain types of antibiotics, which may lead to allergic reactions that can include fever, hives, and breathing problems. Talk to your doctor about any antibiotic allergies to ensure that you are prescribed an alternative that you will not react to. In addition, some antibiotics may affect how well other medications you are taking work. For example, some antibiotics can affect birth control effectiveness.
HOW PLUSHCARE WORKS
1. Video chat with a doctor to tell them about your symptoms and medical history.
2. The doctor can send a prescription for antibiotics, if appropriate for your diagnosis, or send you to a local lab to drop off a sample for further diagnosis.
3. Pick up your prescription at the pharmacy, or get your test results online, and get any additional treatment from your PlushCare doctor.