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How do antibiotics kill bacteria


Antibiotic medications are the drugs used to treat bacterial infections in the body. They could inhibit the growth of bacteria or kill the bacteria, without being harmful for the human organism. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, fungi or parasites, just the bacteria infecting the body.

The first discovered antibiotic was penicillin in 1928. For that discovery, Sir Alexander Flemming received a Nobel Prize. In 1942 Selman Abraham Waksman discovered streptomycin and some other medications, and also introduced the word antibiotic.

There are several mechanisms of action of antibiotics. These medications might suppress the development of bacteria and they are called bacteriostatic medications. In other cases, when they kill the bacteria these are the bactericide drugs.

Bacteriostatic Antibiotics

The mechanism of action of these antibiotics is interference in the synthesis of bacterial proteins. Tetracyclines, macrolides, chloramphenicol and spectinomycin are the bacteriostatic drugs. Tetracyclines and chloramphenicol are used to treat all kinds of bacterial infections. Macrolides are proven to be helpful in fighting with the gram positive bacteria and spectinomycin is used to treat gonorrhea infection.

Bactericidal Antibiotics

Bactericide or bacteriocide medications kill the bacteria that caused infection. They work by affecting the membrane or the wall of bacterial cells and disabling the bacteria to survive. Another way of action is stopping the bacterial metabolism, which also cause the death of bacterial cells. Bactericidal antibiotics are penicillin, quinolones, and polymyxins. Some of the substances known to have bactericidal effects are used as antiseptic and disinfectants.

Antibiotic Spectrum

Antibiotics might be specific for one type of bacteria or for the group of bacteria, which divides these medications to narrow spectrum and broad spectrum medications. When the target is the specific disease doctors are using narrow spectrum antibiotics, such as glycylcyclines and oxazolidinones. Other antibiotic medications might be used to treat different bacterial infections. These are: chloramphenicol, tetracycline or tigecycline.

Antibiotic Resistance

Large doses of antibiotics or long term use of these medications might lead to antibiotic resistance. The bacteria will become resistant to the drugs, which will reduce the body’s ability to fight against other viral, fungi or parasite health problems.

To avoid antibiotic resistance do not use these medications without the consultation with your doctor. Do not use antibiotic medications to treat a viral infection, or an infection without the identified cause, for it won’t treat the infection. Additionally, these antibiotics will kill the good bacteria in the intestines and decrease their number, leaving the body more exposed to infections.

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