Different medicines serve different purposes. For example, some treat the cause of the disease (such as antibiotics), whereas some only treat the symptoms of the disease (such as painkillers).
Antibiotics are medicines that fight infections caused by bacteria. They do this in two main ways:
So any substance that slows the growth and replication of bacteria or kills it completely is an antibiotic.
In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic, which is called penicillin. Upon returning from a holiday, he noticed that penicillium mould had grown on a petri dish containing bacteria. The mould appeared to be preventing the bacteria’s growth around it.
Different bacterial diseases, caused by various bacteria, require specific antibiotics for effective treatment. Some antibiotics work on one bacterial disease, but some can work on a few types.
Most antibiotics treat bacterial diseases, however, some can also treat parasitic and fungal diseases. Antibiotics are unable to treat viral diseases because they have a very different structure and method of survival than bacteria.
Antibiotics work by targeting structures and processes that bacteria have but animal cells and other pathogens do not. This means that antibiotics do not harm animal cells, which makes them an effective treatment.
The presence of antibiotics means that many bacterial diseases are now treatable. However, antibiotics not only target harmful bacteria but can also eliminate beneficial bacteria. This is bad because good bacteria often help our body fight infections.
Since their discovery, antibiotics have been widely used to treat various diseases. However, many antibiotics are no longer effective against certain bacteria because they have been overused. Scientists have found that many bacteria have evolved resistance to antibiotics. This is known as antibiotic resistance.
When we take an antibiotic, some bacteria are eliminated. However, there are some types of bacteria that survive because they are resistant to the antibiotic. They may have unique characteristics that prevent the antibiotic from working on them.
With less competition for nutrients, the population of antibiotic-resistant bacteria will grow rapidly, spreading the resistance.
If antibiotic resistance continues to grow, then bacterial diseases will become more difficult to treat in the future. Some methods of reducing antibiotic resistance are:
Painkillers are medicines designed to relieve symptoms. Unlike antibiotics, they do not treat the cause of the disease, they just make it more manageable for the patient. This means that the immune system still needs to combat the pathogen.