This week is National Antibiotic Awareness Week, and Grand Parkway Emergency Center, a division of Oakbend Medical Center, wants to celebrate the importance of these modern medical marvels. Anyone who has had bronchitis or strep throat will be familiar with antibiotics—you were probably prescribed some at some point—but do you know what antibiotics can do?
Many people think that antibiotics are just an advanced kind of medication that can help with any illness, but this is not the case. Let’s take a closer look at antibiotics and see what they do, as well as how important they have been in modern medical treatments.
What are Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are a type of medicine which specifically targets and fights bacterial infections. You might have heard the popular story about penicillin being discovered on a molding sandwich, and while this is not the case, their discovery was still iconic and impactful. In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered a rare strain of a mold called Penicillin notatum growing in a petri-dish with bacteria in it. Around the mold, the bacteria colonies had stopped growing, and Fleming’s research about how to treat these deadly bacteria began.
Since this first discovery almost 100 years ago, antibiotics have been monumental in modern medicine. These medications have been able to combat major diseases like Tuberculosis and Pneumonia. Today, doctors still use antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. But being able to kill harmful bacteria does not make antibiotics a cure-all for every disease.
What many people do not realize is that antibiotics, no matter how effective, cannot treat diseases which are caused by viruses. The flu, for example, is a notorious viral illness that effects people every year, but antibiotics are not part of the usual treatment for it, since they cannot kill a virus.
When should I take Antibiotics?
If you’re sick and you see your doctor, they might prescribe you antibiotics if you have a bacterial infection like bronchitis or even pink eye. In these cases, it is always a good idea to talk with your doctor about why they are prescribing antibiotics over other treatment options and how long you will need to take them.
It is always advised that patients take all of their antibiotics, even if they feel better before they’ve run out. For example, some bronchitis patients are given 10 days of antibiotics, but might feel better and stop coughing after only one week. If this patient stopped taking their medicine, then the bronchitis might resurface, and they could be sick all over again. But, if they take all 10 days of medication, then they will have a much lower risk of any infection coming back.
Are there side effects?
This is a common concern for people when it comes to any medication, antibiotics or otherwise, and it is always good to ask these questions when you’re getting a new prescription. For individual antibiotic treatments, you can talk with your doctor about side effects and what to expect while you’re taking your medicine, but for most antibiotics there are a few common side effects that might occur.
Often times, patients experience no side effects at all when they’re taking antibiotics, but sometimes they have complications. In those cases, your doctor will help you find the best treatment method. You can also ask your doctor if any antibiotics might interfere with other medications you take regularly, as these might have an effect on your treatment plan as well.
Another common concern for people regarding antibiotics is the long-term effect on our body’s ability to fight infection. Antibiotics can, sometimes, be over-used for treating small illnesses, and when some illnesses are treated with antibiotics too often, then they might grow resistant to it and come back stronger. This might sound intimidating but knowing when and when not to get antibiotics can be helpful.
While every illness is different, talk with your doctor. If they are offering antibiotics when your throat is sore, but you have no fever, then ask about alternative treatment options. They will be able to tell you what the best options are.
Grand Parkway Emergency Center understands how severe infections can impact everyone in our community, and it is why we’re glad we have modern antibiotics on our side to keep our families healthy this holiday season. In the event of any emergency, our facility is open 24/7 with concierge-level care and board-certified doctors.
Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Grand Parkway Emergency Center, A Department of Oakbend Medical Center or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.