Antibiotics: To kill or to cure

Perhaps no other group of drugs has so many loyal supporters and ardent opponents as antibiotics. Opinions range from: "Antibiotics can cure anything" to "Anything but antibiotics." Doctors would say that both statements are untrue.

Discovery and introduction into the medical practice of antibiotics, substances of biological origin capable of inhibiting growth of microorganisms or cause their death, was seen as a revolution in medicine. Fleming, an Englishman who discovered antibiotics in 1928, did not comprehend the extent of his discovery. Synthesis of penicillin made it possible to treat previously fatal infectious diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, scarlet fever, etc. Antibiotics were fully appreciated during the Second World War, when doctors began saving millions of lives of wounded soldiers. People no longer died of wound infections.

Needless to say, antibiotics are a great assistance to doctors in the fight for the lives of patients. Several generations grew up on antibiotics, used to the fact that these drugs help at a fist sign of illness. Patients began making the common mistake by using antibiotics without prescription or doctors' recommendation. After a while they got disappointed in antibiotics. Patients complained that the medicine that used to be a panacea stopped having any effect. Unfortunately, few people understand that it is not antibiotics that are a problem.

Antibiotics are a substance of natural or semi-synthetic origin that cause death of bacteria and germs. In addition to pathogens, they kill the natural microflora.

Typically, doctors prescribe antibiotics when a patient has confirmed presence of bacterial infection. This is precisely the reason why antibiotics should not be self-prescribed in case of an insignificant cold or sore throat. The medicine may help you get rid of the symptoms of disease, but a banal cold, suppressed for a while, may turn into a nasty sinusitis, and a slight cough may turn into lingering bronchitis. Antibiotics should be prescribed by a doctor, and the dosage and dosing interval must be strictly followed. Otherwise, the body may become resistant to a particular antibiotic. The resistance is a major cause of the imaginary "inefficiency" of antibiotics.  

In addition, improper use of antibiotics may result in various side effects. Even in healthy people, antibiotics may cause nausea, dryness of the mouth, and stomach discomfort. This is due to the negative effect of antibiotics on the intestinal microflora and possible development of dysbiosis - gradual replacement of normal members of the intestinal microflora (bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, enterococci, etc.) with pathogens. Considering that nearly 80% of the immune system "lives" in the intestines, it is easy to imagine what the consequences might be.

To minimize the possible harm of antibiotics, from the first day doctors prescribe probiotics supporting the intestinal microflora that enhance immunity, reduce the risk of colds and flu. The term "probiotics" (pro - for, bios - life) is the opposite of "antibiotic". Experts emphasize that probiotics contribute to the development of immunoglobulin protein that has a beneficial effect on the immune system and are important not only during antibiotic treatment, but also in the process of recovery from an illness.

The main thing to remember is that antibiotics are "heavy artillery" and can be used no more than once every six months, otherwise the body gets used to the drug and requires more powerful antibiotics with, respectively, greater side effects. Prolonged use of antibiotic may damage the digestive tract and contribute to the development of dysbiosis. Taking antibiotics without doctor's advice is unacceptable.  

Julia Kryveleva


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov